What’s an under-represented minority?
You’d think Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Surgery would have a good answer, considering it offers a scholarship specifically for these individuals. Yet a freedom-of-information request has turned up the startling revelation that VCU doesn’t define what an under-represented minority is.
This news is due to the good work of the American Accountability Foundation, which filed its request with VCU on May 1. It requested:
On the Department of Surgery website there is an announcement for the University Diversity Scholars Program. The scholarship is available to individuals who “who identify as underrepresented minorities” and the application requirements require them to “confirm your background/identification as an underrepresented minority.”
Please provide a copy of documents that detail what criteria or characteristics would be used to evaluate whether an applicant’s representation as an “underrepresented minority” was consistent with the criteria of the scholarship.
VCU responded within a month, yet the answer raised more questions. The school said:
You have asked for a copy of “documents that detail what criteria or characteristics would be used to evaluate whether an applicant’s representation as an ‘underrepresented minority’ was consistent with the criteria for the University Diversity Scholars Program announced on the Department of Surgery’s website. Department of Surgery staff checked and the requested records do not exist.
How can VCU offer a scholarship if it doesn’t know who’s eligible? Is VCU making arbitrary decisions based solely on applicants’ skin color? If yes, there’s a name for that: Racial discrimination. If no, then VCU should clarify.
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