Ohio Universities Reevaluate Race-Based Scholarships Following Supreme Court Decision

At least seven public universities in Ohio are reevaluating their scholarships following remarks made by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost regarding race-based scholarships after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against race-conscious admissions.

Cleveland State University, Kent State University, the University of Akron, the University of Toledo, and Youngstown State University have confirmed that they are currently reassessing their scholarship programs. Ohio University and Ohio State University are also part of this review process, as previously indicated by the Capital Journal.

“The University of Toledo has decided to halt the distribution of scholarships that take race into account as part of their selection criteria post the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action in higher education admissions,” said university spokesperson Tyrel Linkhorn via email.

Approximately 6% of Toledo’s nearly 1,200 donor-supported scholarships, totaling $500,000, are affected by this decision, as highlighted in an email by Linkhorn.

“The University and The University of Toledo Foundation are currently collaborating with donors to explore possible modifications to scholarship agreements in order to align with the Supreme Court’s ruling,” Linkhorn added in the email.

Kent State and Youngstown State cited the Supreme Court ruling and “guidance from the state of Ohio” as the rationale behind their scholarship reviews. Cleveland State referenced the Supreme Court ruling only, while Akron did not provide a specific explanation.

As previously reported, Ohio University has temporarily stopped granting race-based diversity scholarships, and Ohio State University is adjusting scholarship criteria to comply with the law, as indicated on the university’s website.

Ohio University is reevaluating 130 gift agreements worth $450,000 in potential scholarship awards to ensure compliance with legal requirements. “If necessary, the University will collaborate with donors to revise the language in the agreements,” stated university spokesperson Dan Pittman.

Ohio State University anticipates awarding approximately $448 million in financial aid for the current fiscal year, according to university spokesperson Ben Johnson.

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

A spokesperson for Central State University, the only public historically Black university in Ohio, confirmed they do not offer race-based scholarships.

Supreme Court ruling

Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that Harvard and the University of North Carolina violated the equal protections clause of the 14th Amendment by considering race in applications.

Following this ruling, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sent a communication to colleges and universities in Ohio instructing them to cease factoring race into admissions decisions and warning that his office would not shield individuals who use race as a determining factor.

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

During a call on Jan. 26 with universities, Yost’s spokesperson Bethany McCorkle mentioned that scholarships following the Supreme Court ruling need to be scrutinized for compliance with the law. While the Court did not explicitly ban race-based scholarships, it emphasized the eradication of racial discrimination in all forms. McCorkle stated that race-based scholarships are unconstitutional as they involve discrimination based on race in awarding benefits.

Sara Kilpatrick, the executive director of the Ohio Conference of the American Association of University Professors, criticized the use of the Harvard case to instill fear and intimidation, emphasizing disagreement with the decision and the Attorney General’s broad application of it to matters involving race. Kilpatrick expressed concern that removing race-based scholarships could hinder Ohio students from pursuing degrees and cautioned against the negative impact on institutions’ revenue streams.

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