Volume 5, Number 3
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION POLICY ON MINORITY SCHOLARSHIPS
On February 6, 1991, during his confirmation hearings before the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, Secretary of Education designate Lamar Alexander (former Governor of Tennessee) said that within a few days of taking office he would discard the Department of Education's latest policy statements on race-based scholarships and would order a broad review of the policy. Alexander said that the effect would be that the Department of Education letter of December 4 and the clarification statement of December 18 on minority scholarships would be gone, and the Department would review this policy in the way it should be reviewed.
Alexander said that he would take these actions for three reasons. First, he said the Department's recent ac tions had sent exactly the wrong signal to minority students: "the message should be we want you in, not we want you out, and a high percentage of minority students depend on scholarships to attend college." Second, he said the recent actions of the Department were not the way to develop policy: "We need to know what is going on college campuses, and we need to hear from the colleges and universities." Third, he said the ac tions had caused massive, unnecessary confusion. Alexander said the Department will step back and take a thorough look at this issue with input from the higher education community, the Attorney General, the Com mittee and anyone else who is interested.
On December 4, 1990 the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Michael Williams, issued a press release in dicating that he had advised the Executive Director of the Fiesta Bowl (College Football Game) that it would be a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for the Universities of Louisville and Alabama (the schools scheduled to play in the Fiesta Bowl) to assist Fiesta Bowl organizers in their efforts to give the schools $100,000 each earmarked for minority scholarships.
The letter stated:
"The Title VI regulation includes several provisions that prohibit recipients of ED funding from denying, restricting, or providing different or segregated financial aid or other program benefits on the basis of race, color, or national origin...OCR interprets these provisions as generally prohibiting race-exclusive scholarships ... [the University of Louisville and the University of Alabama] may not directly, or through contractual or other arrangements, assist the Fiesta Bowl in the award of those scholarships unless they are subject to a desegregation plan that mandates such scholarships."