The University of Maryland at College Park was bought to court regarding its Benjamin Banneker scholarship program that was voluntarily established for only African-American students who are eligible.
Daniel Podberesky, a Latino student had a 3.56 cumulative GPA and 1340 on the S.A.T which was the requirement for the Benjamin Banneker scholarship program but did not qualify nor did he qualify for the merit-based scholarships offered. In order to get a different response, he decided to sue the University, challenging the constitutionality of the Banneker Scholarship.
The University stance was built on the facts that the Benjamin Banneker scholarship was put in place to attract high-achieving African American students that was previously discriminated against. They were making a right decision based on the school’s previous reputation within the African-American community and its allegedly racially hostile campus climate.
In the Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court announced the end of segregated educational systems violated the Equal Protection Clause and once revisited ordered the dissolution of segregated public-school education yet recognizing this would not immediately correct the process of integrating the schools. The federal district court in Maryland ruled that the Banneker Scholarship was constitutionally permissible. Prompting Podberesky to appeal the ruling causing the case to be remanded to have the court make specific findings concerning the present effects of past discrimination against African-American students at the University of Maryland.
My ruling would be that the Banneker program is not narrowly tailored and there is proof that the program has successfully attracted high-achieving African-American students. The findings would also prove that program improved the retention and enrollment rates. In relation to the group that had been discriminated against previously by the University I find that the program was not sustainable under that rationale and the high-achieving African-American students had remedied the problems of representation by serving as role models and mentors to other African-American students.
One option would be to offer a minority scholarship through privately funded, race-based scholarships. A lot of donations received by universities come from alumni and other individuals. Alumni students would be the best to reach out for and start an alumni fund for diverse students because they would know firsthand about the compelling interest of the university. Reaching out to the Alumni that were present when the discrimination was prevalent may also be a great source because they are familiar with the presence that the University had discriminated. Changing the purpose or mission of the school to identify that the University enhance diversity may also attract private donations.
This was a very fact-specific case and I think that It would be in the best interests of our education and workforce that universities can continue to receive and implement race-based scholarships. It may be necessary to implement a more diverse scholarship program outside of the one just for African American students because then this will include other minorities that otherwise would not be eligible. To promote and prepare students for the workforce there needs to be diversity within the university as well as allow some budget relief without hiking tuition which may lead to minorities not being able to apply. Race-based scholarships contribute to a better-educated and prepare students to enter the diversity of the workforce. Students that are educated in a diverse setting are ready to succeed and can intercede into the world beyond the university setting. Therefore, allowing endowed donor restricted scholarships will be the most effective way to meet the perpetual need for diversity in higher education.