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SIU Restores Original Web Descriptions Of Minority Fellowships

SIU Restores Original Web Descriptions Of Minority Fellowships

Southern Illinois University’s Web site  has restored the original descriptions of two controversial graduate fellowships after officials said the listings had been mistakenly revised.

The revisions were made as SIU administrators weigh a U.S. Justice Department proposal that would head off a lawsuit threatened by the government, which is demanding that SIU discontinue three fellowship programs that it says amounts to “intentional discrimination against Whites, non-preferred minorities and males.”

The university’s Web site had listed the Graduate Dean’s Fellowship and the Proactive Recruitment of Multicultural Professionals for Tomorrow, or PROMPT on a page titled “Underrepresented Fellowships.” The new language changed the heading of the page to “Underserved Fellowships” and stated applications for the fellowships “have been extensively revised and are now open to individuals whose personal or family background, life, cultural and/or ethnic experiences could contribute to a more reflective responsive environment in the program, the institution and the larger academic community.”

David Gross, a spokesman for the SIU system, says the revisions were done without the consent of the university’s president, chancellor or the system’s legal counsel and did not reflect the Justice Department’s proposed offer. Gross says the revisions were made on “an assumption” by administrators in the system’s diversity office.

SIU has refused to publicly discuss the Justice Department’s proposal, saying only that administrators and key constituency groups were being tapped for feedback before the university responds.

The new heading and paragraph have since been removed and the original descriptions for PROMPT, which provided tuition waivers and monthly stipends to 78 students since 2000, and the Graduate Dean’s Fellowship, used by 27 students since 2000, have been restored.

PROMPT again states its goal as being to “increase the number of minorities receiving advanced degrees in disciplines in which they are underrepresented.” And the Graduate Dean’s Fellowship is again listed as “for women and traditionally underrepresented students who have overcome social, cultural or economic conditions.”

The description for the third program targeted by the Justice Department — the National Science Foundation’s Bridge to the Doctorate program — was never changed. That program, which has helped 24 students since its start in 2004, offers a stipend and
help with educational expenses “for underrepresented minority students” to study in fields including math and engineering.

— Associated Press

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