U of California Accepts Racially Delimited Scholarship Request
by James L. Morrison

[Note: This is a re-formatted manuscript that was originally published in On the Horizon, 1992, 1(3), 6. It is posted here with permission from Jossey Bass Publishers.]

The University of California Board of Regents recently decided to accept a scholarship bequest for "very poor Caucasian American scholars." The acceptance of this bequest reflects a major change in policy regarding racially delimited bequests and marks the end of the color-blind ideal. Years ago, racially discriminatory funds were readily accepted by the University with no questions asked. However, after the civil rights revolution of the 1960s, the University decided to continue to administer the old racially delimited bequests, but to discourage the acceptance of any additional bequests. Five years later, the university took a tougher stand on the racial issue. The racial restrictions of old bequests were ignored and new bequests that contained racial restrictions were not accepted.

By 1977, affirmative action replaced color-blindness as the new Zeitgeist. The University accepted racially restrictive donations as long as the University could find unrestricted funds to match the restricted funds. However, now fifteen years later, the policy has come full circle. The University has accepted a bequest that explicitly excludes minority groups without seeking unrestricted matching funds.

The acceptance of the bequest is consistent with a new national attitude of race-conscious dispensation, most recently evidenced by the racial gerrymandering of congressional districts. While the intent of the congressional redistricting plan is to provide greater representation for minorities in government, the unintended consequence is clear. Segregating blacks in one district inevitably segregates whites in surrounding districts.

What is most tragic about these policies is that "the world has long looked to us as the most successful multi-racial, multi-ethnic society on the globe. Rather than continue the pursuit of the traditional American ideal of common citizenship, we are sliding back to the kind of group rights Balkanization that has been tried everywhere from Beirut to Belgrade, with consequences too sorrowful to recount." [Krauthammer, C. (1992, October 5). Racist bequest a sign of slide back to exclusion. The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC, 9A.]


Colleges and universities are now more likely to be offered race/ethnic restricted money. Barring the adoption of IRS regulations forbidding the tax deductibility of such donations, development offices must be prepared to formulate policies regarding accepting such funds. Can we defend a double standard in which funds restricted to minorities are acceptable, while funds restricted to whites are not? How do we respond to this question given the policy to increase diversity on college campuses?

All material within the HORIZON site, unless otherwise noted, may be distributed freely for educational purposes. If you do redistribute any of this material, it must retain this copyright notice and you must use appropriate citation including the URL. Also, we would appreciate your sending James L. Morrison a note as to how you are using it. HTML and design by Noel Fiser, ©2006. Page last modified: 7/1/2003 8:49:47 PM. 16576 visitors since February 2000.