If you're a kid from Iowa who plans to attend Columbia University, but not to study law, and you know for a fact that you will return to Iowa after you graduate, then you may have a strong chance of winning a scholarship! Unfortunately, your scholarship is funded by a dead racist person.
Lydia C. Roberts left her estate to Columbia when she died in 1920, the Associated Press reported, and created a very restrictive fellowship, the Lydia C. Roberts Graduate Fellowship. It stipulates that money be given only to "a person of the Caucasian race," among the Iowa-related rules and other rules.
Columbia University wants to keep the money, but get rid of the Caucasian clause. However, doing so is more complicated than you might think: Columbia can't change the terms without permission from a judge. the New York Post reported.
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The Post said that it's not clear if the school had been following the "whites only" rule, which the NAACP had protested all the way back in 1949.
Last week, Lucy Drotning, the university's associate provost, filed an affidavit in Manhattan Supreme Court to request approval to make the fellowship less racist. The court request made headlines after local tabloids found it.
"Circumstances have so changed from the time when the Trust was established" that complying with the restrictions are "impossible," the filing says, according to the New York Daily News.