Joe Mroszczyk, president of the College Republicans at Boston University, admits he set out to stir up a hornet's nest when he came up with the idea of offering a whites-only scholarship at the school. But he got a little more buzz than he bargained for.
"To tell you the truth, we didn't see this coming," Mroszczyk said. "The Drudge Report picked it up yesterday, and today I just finished a round of national interviews. It's kind of overwhelming."
All the media attention is focused on a $250 Caucasian Achievement and Recognition Scholarship offered by Mroszczyk and the BU chapter of the College Republicans. Applicants must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher; they must write two essays; and, here's the kicker, they must be at least one-quarter Caucasian.
The application itself offers an explanation: "We believe that racial preferences in all their forms are perhaps the worst form of bigotry confronting America today."
According to Mroszczyk, his group is offering the scholarship to point out "how ridiculous it is to have any sort of racially based scholarship."
At BU, for example, students who are at least one-quarter Hispanic can apply for a National Hispanic Recognition Scholarship.
"There are plenty of poor, white, academically gifted students who need that money just as much," Mroszczyk said.
It isn't the first time a group of students has tried this kind of stunt.
Two years ago a chapter of the College Republicans at Roger Williams University also offered a $250 whites-only scholarship. That's where the BU students got the idea.
"We are not doing this as some kind of white supremacy thing. I wanted to have a dialogue about racial preference," Mroszczyk said.
It seems as if Mroszczyk has gotten his wish. People from across the country are now weighing in on the idea through e-mail and the radio. And closer to home, some BU students are having their say too.
"It's a poor way to talk about affirmative action," said David Coreas, the 21-year-old senior who is president of the Latino fraternity Phi Iota Alpha at BU. "If they want to have a scholarship, then let them have a scholarship, but they're stirring up controversy in the wrong way."
Coreas said he believes that racially based scholarships are necessary to level a very uneven academic playing field.
"We have to look at the situation honestly," he said. "Caucasians tend to have a higher per capita income than Latinos and other minorities. We have to have scholarships to survive."
Coreas said he would welcome an honest dialogue on campus about race and affirmative action.
Mroszczyk admits even some of his good friends are shaking their heads.
"They said I can't believe you're doing this," he said.
But for all the talk, there are still no takers for the scholarship. The application has been available online since Nov. 7, and so far not one student has filled it out.
That's money wasted, according to David Coreas.
"I wish I could apply: That $250 could help me pay for my textbooks," he said.
Coreas isn't eligible, though.
But for BU students who have a pretty good GPA and can write a couple of essays, there's still time, as long as they're also 25 percent Caucasian. The deadline for applications is Nov. 30.