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Whites-only scholarship generates controversy

State GOP: Scholarship has racist overtones

From Jennifer Styles

Signs protesting the College Republicans' whites-only scholarship
Signs protesting the College Republicans' whites-only scholarship

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College Republicans at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island are offering a scholarship for which only white students are eligible. (February 16)
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Roger Williams University

(CNN) -- A whites-only scholarship to be awarded Wednesday by a student Republican organization at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, has drawn both controversy and support.

"It all began two weeks ago as a way for the college Republican groups to express their opposition and tell people they are against race-based scholarships and affirmative action," June Speakman, faculty adviser for the College Republicans told CNN.

"We never expected such an overwhelming response of e-mails and media attention."

The scholarship is for $250, but College Republicans president Jason Mattera said he has received donations and pledges totaling $4,000 for future whites-only scholarships.

Mattera is of Puerto Rican descent and was awarded a $5,000 scholarship from the Hispanic College Fund. He said he believes being eligible for such scholarships gives him "an inherent advantage over my white peers." He wants the university to award scholarships based on merit and not ethnicity.

Applicants for the College Republicans' scholarship must be of Caucasian descent, have high honors, write an essay, and show an impressive list of accomplishments, Mattera said. Sixteen people applied.

Roger Williams University does not sponsor or endorse the scholarship, university spokesman Rick Goff told CNN.

"The scholarship is entirely initiated by the College Republicans at the university," he said.

Erin Bedell, the Roger Williams University student body president, said the scholarship's timing is suspect.

"The scholarship was put out in the beginning of February to counter Black History Month, specifically for Reginald Jones, an African-American conservative keynote speaker and author who will be speaking this evening at the Roger Williams College of Arts and Science building," Bedell said.

The state Republican Party has criticized the scholarship as having racist overtones.

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