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Bush DOJ: Southern Illinois University's giving white guys a raw deal

Reasonable people can disagree about how to address the legacy of discrimination and racism in American society, and the definitions and effectiveness of the various forms of affirmative action policies. However, I don’t think any sane person can logically argue that white men are underprivileged, underrepresented as a class, and in need of a helping hand in comparison to women and racial minority groups that are socioeconomically vulnerable.

But we are talking about sane folks, right? That might explain why we’re hearing this out of Bush’s Justice Department (Chicago Sun-Times):

President Bush’s administration has threatened to sue Southern Illinois University, alleging its fellowship programs for minority and female students violate federal civil rights laws by discriminating against whites, men and others.

In a move Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said “just doesn’t make sense,” the U.S. Justice Department charged that three SIU programs that aim to increase minority enrollment in graduate school exclude whites, other minorities and males, in violation of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act.

“The University has engaged in a pattern or practice of intentional discrimination against whites, non-preferred minorities and males,” says a Justice Department letter sent to the university last week and obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

It should be noted that only 8 percent of SIU’s 5,500 graduate students are black or Hispanic, so we’re not talking about a bum rush of “darkies” into SIU’s programs, taking away fellowships from the pale faces dominating the school’s population. But Alberto’s goons are ready to sue. Here are the programs in question:

FELLOWSHIP: Bridge to the Doctorate
Started: 2004
Award: $30,000 stipend, plus $10,500 for education expenses
Purpose: “For underrepresented minority students to initiate graduate study in science, technology, engineering and math.”
Budget: $985,000
Number of awards since inception: 24 (19 blacks, 5 Latino, 1 Native American)

FELLOWSHIP: Proactive Recruitment and Multicultural Professionals for Tomorrow
Started: 2000
Award: Tuition waiver and $1,200 monthly stipend
Purpose: “To increase the number of minorities receiving advanced degrees in disciplines in which they are underrepresented.”
Budget: $158,000
Awards since inception: 78 (61 blacks, 14 Latinos, 1 Asian, 2 Native Americans)

FELLOWSHIP: Graduate Dean’s
Started: 2000
Award: Tuition waiver, $1,000 monthly stipend
Purpose: “For women and and traditionally underrepresented students who have overcome social, cultural or economic conditions.”
Budget: $67,000
Awards since inception: 27 (16 whites, 7 blacks, 4 Latinos)

SOURCE: Southern Illinois University

The Bushies are making this case based on the Grutter vs. Bollinger U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2003, which ruled that race could be included as a factor in determining admissions (in that case, the University of Michigan), but not the only factor. Because of this, each applicant now had to be evaluated on an individual basis, making it difficult, if not impossible, to consider a factor such as race. This is yet another desperate appeal to the Chimp’s “base,” which is eroding faster than you can say “Turdblossom.”

A spokesman for the Justice Department’s civil rights division declined comment Thursday, but Illinois’ junior U.S. senator ridiculed the maneuver as a “cynical” bid to distract public attention from Bush’s sagging popularity.

One of my concerns has been with all the problems the Bush administration is having, that they’ll start resorting to what they consider to be wedge issues as a way of helping themselves politically,” Obama said.

“If anything, the White House should be doing everything it can to encourage more engineering students and Ph.D.’s. It strikes me as a completely unnecessary and divisive move and one that I think may be pretty cynical in its motive,” Obama said.

Pat McNeil, an assistant dean and administrator of the Underrepresented Fellowships Office, said she knows of no white students who have applied for the Bridge or Proactive Recruitment programs.

When it comes down to it, our President was the beneficiary of an affirmative action program that the students up for these fellowships will never get a crack at — the Legacy Award, or “Daddy’s Little Helper.” The Chimp will never have to worry about needing a helping hand when he has Poppy to help him out — Shrub has coasted all the way to the White House without any apparent talent, intelligence — or hard work. When is the DOJ going to go after legacy admissions as discriminatory?

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding