Seven Ohio Universities Review Race-Based Scholarships Post Supreme Court Ruling

Universities including Ohio State University and Ohio University said they are in the process of reviewing their scholarships.

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At least seven Ohio public universities are reviewing scholarships in the wake of comments Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost made about race-based scholarships after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against race-conscious admissions.

Cleveland State University, Kent State University, the University of Akron, the University of Toledo and Youngstown State University all said they are in the process of reviewing their scholarships. This is in addition to Ohio University and Ohio State University, as previously reported by the Capital Journal.

“The University of Toledo has paused the distribution of scholarships that consider race as a part of their award criteria following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the use of affirmative action in higher education admissions,” university spokesperson Tyrel Linkhorn said in email.

This affects 6% of Toledo’s nearly 1,200 donor-supported scholarships, which is worth $500,000, he said in an email.

“The University and The University of Toledo Foundation are actively working with donors to explore potential revisions to scholarship agreements so we can continue to support our donors’ goals in a way that fully complies with the Supreme Court decision,” Linkhorn said in an email.

Kent State and Youngstown State mentioned the Supreme Court case and “guidance from the state of Ohio” as reasons for their review. Cleveland State just mentioned the Supreme Court case and Akron didn’t give a specific reason.

The Capital Journal previously reported that Ohio University is “temporarily pausing” awarding race-based diversity scholarships and that Ohio State University is in the “process of updating scholarship criteria to ensure compliance with the law,” according to the university’s website.

Ohio University has 130 gift agreements that are currently under review that represent $450,000 in potential scholarship awards, university spokesperson Dan Pittman said in an email.

“The review is to ensure language in the gift agreements remains lawful,” Pittman said. “If deemed necessary, the University will work with donors to make revisions to language in the agreements.”

Ohio State University expects to give away approximately $448 million dollars in financial aid this fiscal year, university spokesperson Ben Johnson said in an email.

Bowling Green State University, Miami University, Northeast Ohio Medical Center, Shawnee State University, the University of Cincinnati and Wright State University did not answer questions about the status of their race-based scholarships.

A university spokesperson for Central State University, Ohio’s only public historically Black university, said in email they don’t have race based scholarships.

Supreme Court decision

Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Harvard and the University of North Carolina violated the equal protections clause of the 14th Amendment by using race as a factor in applications.

The next day, Yost sent a letter to Ohio colleges and universities saying “employees must immediately cease considering race when making admissions decisions,” according to the letter. It also said his office won’t legally protect someone at a college or university who uses race as a factor.

The U.S. Supreme Court. (Al Drago/Getty Images)

The topic of race-based scholarships came up on a Jan. 26 call with universities, said Yost’s spokesperson Bethany McCorkle.

“What was said in response to a question was after the recent Supreme Court decision, scholarships will need to be looked at to ensure compliance with the law,” McCorkle said in an email. “Although the Court did not expressly prohibit race-based scholarships, it indicated that ‘eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.’ Race-based scholarships discriminate on the basis of race in awarding benefits. Therefore, it would follow that such programs are unconstitutional.”

The Harvard Supreme Court decision is being “weaponized to intimidate and create fear,” said Sara Kilpatrick, executive director of the Ohio Conference of the American Association of University Professors.

“We obviously disagree with the Harvard decision, and we also disagree with how the Attorney General is trying to extrapolate it to apply to virtually anything that touches race,” she said. “We hope that institutions are not being pushed into a direction that ultimately will harm students.”

If race-based scholarships are removed from universities, Kilpatrick said it could prevent Ohio students from earning degrees.

“This is a dangerous slippery slope, and they should be cautious about how far they’re trying to push this,” she said. “This will undoubtedly dry up desperately needed revenue streams for institutions.”

Ohio Capital Journal is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Ohio Capital Journal maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor David Dewitt for questions: info@ohiocapitaljournal.com. Follow Ohio Capital Journal on Facebook and Twitter.

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