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Southern Illinois University Faculty

Southern Illinois University Faculty
Senate Backs Minority Fellowships

Southern Illinois University’s faculty senate is urging the school’s administration to continue support for three graduate fellowships aimed at women and minorities that federal prosecutors have deemed discriminatory.

The senate passed a resolution at its monthly meeting saying the administration should maintain the programs. Faculty Senate President Robert D. Benford acknowledged the resolution is only a symbolic measure.

A letter sent by the U.S. Justice Department in November demanded that SIU halt the fellowship programs or be sued. The government alleges the programs violate the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and result in “intentional discrimination against Whites, non-preferred minorities and males,” (see Diverse, Dec. 1, 2005).

SIU officials have denied the fellowships are discriminatory, saying the financial aid incentives promote the university’s tradition of diversity. University officials late last month said they planned talks with the Justice Department aimed at settling the dispute without litigation.
Two of the fellowship programs are aimed at increasing minority enrollment in graduate programs in which minorities are underrepresented. The third fellowship is offered to women — including Whites — and minorities who have overcome social, cultural or economic obstacles.

Nearly 130 students have been aided through the fellowships, according to SIU. Just under 8 percent of SIU’s 5,500 graduate students are Black or Hispanic, according to the university.

SIU has said no timetable on a possible settlement or information about the meetings with federal officials would be released.

— Associated Press

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