Officials reluctant to discuss Bush’s policy

By Mark McGowan

NIU officials are hesitant to comment on a Bush administration policy that prohibits colleges from awarding scholarships based solely on race.

Education Secretary Lamar Alexander announced Wednesday that colleges must end the long-time practice usually used to bring minorities into schools by offering them scholarships. But Alexander said colleges still can award money if race is only one factor among many in the decision process.

Associate Admissions Director Bob Burk refused comment for now and said he would comment once he learned more about the new rules. “I won’t talk in a vacuum,” he said.

Financial Aid Director Jerry Augsburger was unavailable for comment.

However, Admasu Zike, director of the Center for Black Studies, said the new rules might discourage minorities from coming to college.

“That definitely would hurt a lot of students,” Zike said. “It would really be a loss.”

There is a move in Congress, however, to fight the ban. A congressional panel is charging to prohibit the scholarships is legally unsupportable and proceduraly unlawful.

This might be good news for NIU. As the new policy was being discussed in the spring, Burk said he had doubts it would even pass, saying it would “shock the academic community.”

Burk told The Northern Star in March that “it’s taken years to where we could offer incentives and awards for students. We’d be going the wrong way if we reversed this.”

Barbara Henley, vice president for Student Affairs, said in March, “I think it will have very serious implications for the U.S. If we don’t fulfill our responsibility to educate everyone, we will suffer as a nation,” she said.

The new rules would not affect the University Scholarship Committee, which hands out scholarships for freshmen, transfer students and Board of Regents scholars, said Committee Chairman Roger Cliffe.