A new non-profit organization in the state of Texas is raising funds to award five $500 college scholarships to a group that they call “an unsupported select minority”— white men.
Colby Bohannon, an Iraq war veteran and a mass communication major at Texas State University in San Marcos, formed the Former Majority Association for Equality (FMAFE) along with a few like-minded friends to “financially assist young Americans seeking higher education who lack opportunities in similar organizations that are based upon race or gender.”
The non-profit group was officially incorporated with the state of Texas in March 2010 and began the process of application for public charity status with the IRS in January 2011.
Starting this summer, FMAFE plans to award as many as five $500 scholarships to deserving men who are at least 25% Caucasian, have at least a 3.0 grade point average, demonstrate a commitment to education and prove financial need.
“We know that we’re going to be receiving some vicious attacks, from people claiming that we are racists, or promoting some bigotry-filled agenda,” Bohannan, the group’s president, told Reuters. “Our aim is actually just to help students. We are not trying to jump on any political agenda or bandwagon.”
Apparently people out there agree with him. As of February 27, 2011, the group’s website states that they have reached their $2500 goal to provide five $500 scholarships for the fall 2011 semester and have already set a new, higher goal for the spring 2012 semester—five scholarships of $1000 each.
“If you’re not a male, and if you’re not white, you’re called a minority. I’m not sure white males are the majority anymore,” Bohannon is quoted by AOL News. In his home state of Texas, at least, non-Hispanic whites are indeed a minority. Census numbers released earlier this month show that non-Hispanic whites comprise just 42% of the state’s population, down from more than half just one decade ago.
According to the Austin-American Statesman, Bohannon’s family didn’t have a large amount of money set aside to pay for school when he first applied to college. He found plenty of scholarships for women and minorities, but none aimed at people like him—white males.“I felt excluded,” he told the newspaper. “If everyone else can find scholarships, why are we left out?”
“There’s a scholarship out there for just about any demographic, except this one,” William Lake, FMAFE treasurer, pointed out. “We realize it’s for good reason — this is a touchy subject.”
Touchy subject indeed.
Scholarship Uses Discrimination To Promote Equality is the headline of a February 15, 2011 Texas State University Star article. “It’s hard to commend the association for risking their reputation by offering a scholarship to a group that has historically been on the favored side of favoritism, so to speak,” wrote advertising senior Chip Wozniak. “Discrimination, regardless of whom it benefits, is still discrimination.”
It’s receiving a backlash of attention, but FMAFE is not the first organization to offer whites-only college scholarships.
The College Republicans at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island offered a $250 scholarship in 2004. Requirements? An essay on “why you are proud of your white heritage” and a recent picture to “confirm whiteness.”
Jason Mattera, a student of Puerto Rican descent and the organization’s president at the time, said that the group was parodying minority scholarships offered at Roger Williams and making a statement. “Many people think that coming from a white background you’re automatically privileged, you’re automatically rich, and your parents pay full tuition. That’s just not the case,” Mattera was quoted in a February 16, 2004 Associated Press article.
In 2006, Boston University’s College Republicans created a similar $250 Caucasian Achievement and Recognition Scholarship. The group’s president at the time, Joe Mroszczyk, said the scholarship was being offered to show "how ridiculous it is to have any sort of racially based scholarship,” pointing out that students who are at least one-quarter Hispanic can apply for a National Hispanic Recognition Scholarship at Boston University.
“We believe that racial preferences in all their forms are perhaps the worst form of bigotry confronting America today. There are plenty of poor, white, academically gifted students who need that money just as much,” Mroszczyk told ABC News on November 22, 2006.
Colby Bohannan of FMAFE told the Austin-American Statesman that unlike the two College Republicans scholarships mentioned above, his group takes no stance on affirmative action.“It’s time in our society to look at the way our culture views race. It’s time to give everyone an equal shot.”
The Texas State University Star reports that upcoming activities for the organization include a May 21 fundraiser. Once volunteers, donors and fundraising turnout are evaluated, FMAFE plans on making a list of finalists from potential applicants. They will finalize the process with a selection of the candidates, and will award scholarships on July 4.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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