Rhode Island Controversy
Pretty much the same thing happened this time as last time, except this got slightly less national press and the university didn't handle it as well. Oh, and no one won it this time. Here's the backlash:
The student senate was not amused, and in February the Student Organizations Advisory and Review Committee demanded that the College Republicans: A) not award the $100 scholarship, B) apologize in writing for having violated the anti-discrimination section of the senate’s bylaws, and C) seek permission from the senate before mounting any programs in the next 12 months. The group cheerfully agreed to A – why not? – and declined to comply with B and C.
In response the Advisory and Review Committee exercised the nuclear option and voted to derecognize the group, in spite of the fact that Robert Carothers, the university’s president, had declared on April 6 that it was unconstitutional to require the College Republicans to “make public statements which are not their own.” (The relevant First Amendment category is “compelled speech.”)
The funny thing about this, and what most sane people usually recognize right away, is that white males are automatically denied many scholarships. Don't believe me? Go to any scholarship search service, and large numbers of them are directly for minorities. Even when I told Fastweb that I'm a white male, I still got tons of minority- or women-only scholarships. All that the college republicans are doing is pointing this out, and showing that when someone discriminates the other way people get angry.
I'll never understand why this matters to those people. This is like when College Republican groups have bake sales and charge more to minorities (reverse affirmative action), they want the backlash, they want it because it shows how intolerant the supposedly tolerant people are.
Honestly, tolerance isn't accepting people with different skin color or sexual orientation; it's accepting people with different ideas. Every decent human being understands that all people are the same when skin or sex is concerned. It doesn't take any kind of feat to accept them; it's much more difficult to accept people with whom you vehemently disagree. (Yes, I'm aware that there is still discrimination against some people in the world. I mean acceptance at an individual level, not at a societal level. We're not even close to acceptance at the societal level for many peoples.)
By pulling these stunts the College Republicans showcase one of the many hypocrisies of our culture. If the liberals who disagree with their positions want to deal with them in a liberal way, then debate their ideas, don't shut them down. I find that far too often that's the reaction to things that liberals don't like to hear (especially on college campuses), and it's more disgusting than some Republican positions.
What do I think about the scholarship itself? They make a good point that there are many scholarships that outright bar white males from applying. But there are two things to keep in mind: First, there are thousands of scholarships available, most of which are open to anyone; Second, it's private money and people are free to do what they want with it. If I wanted to give a bunch of money to college students, I'd pretty much go for those who need it regardless of outer characteristics, but some people feel the need to correct for past and present inequalities based on superficial characteristics. Just as they are free to offer scholarships to one group, so should the College Republicans be free to offer their puny scholarship. As a form of protest against the state of scholarships, I think it's weak. But as a demonstration of how intolerant college liberals are, it's beautiful.