NYC’s Columbia University seeks to alter Whites-only bequest

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(Diane Bondareff/AP)

 

NEW YORK (AP) – Columbia University is seeking to change the terms of a fellowship that can only be awarded to White students from Iowa.

The Lydia C. Roberts Graduate Fellowship stipulates that money be given only to “a person of the Caucasian race.”

Roberts left Columbia most of her $509,000 estate when she died in 1920 and created the highly restrictive fellowship. In addition to the “Whites only” rule, Roberts fellows must be from Iowa, must not study law or several other fields and must return to Iowa for two years after graduating.

University officials filed court papers last week seeking to change the racist provisions of the bequest.

The Daily News reports (http://nydn.us/13l65pi ) that Columbia hasn’t awarded the fellowship since 1997.

It’s unclear whether or not Columbia has followed this rule, and this isn’t the first time someone’s spoken up about the grant.

However, the school’s provost at the time, Grayson L. Kirk, defended the racial provision when the NAACP protested it in 1949.

“We do not feel we are justified in depriving some of our students of the benefits of restricted grants simply because they are not available to everyone,” he said. [NY Post]

A Columbia spokesman did not return an email seeking comment Wednesday.

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