Texas group launches new scholarship for white males only

By Sam Butterfield

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Courtesy of 10thlife/flickr

Courtesy of 10thlife/flickr

A group of graduate students at Texas State University has come up with a new kind of need-based scholarship, and have even created their own non-profit 501(c)(3) group to bankroll their mission.

Texas State graduate students Colby Bohannan, William Lake and several others last spring launched the Former Majority Association for Equality (FMAFE), which is intended to benefit white male students left out of grants and financial assistance intended for demographic groups thought of as more financially deserving.

Lake, the group’s treasurer and a grad student seeking an MBA at Texas State, located in San Marcos and north of San Antonio, said he and a few friends got together last year and decided to start the group after they realized that no organization, as they saw it serving to benefit struggling white males existed.

“Basically when we were coming up with this idea, two friends of mine and I were just talking, we realized there really isn’t anything out there that specifically does address the poor caucasian male who is trying to pay for school,” he said to the Collegian in a phone interview. “So we decided we would go ahead and put something together for that.”

The group formed last March, Lake explained, but was unable to gather enough money to begin offering scholarships until next semester. He said that while much of the attention the organization has received has been over race, the members’ real focus is on aiding Americans on the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder.

“We’ve really hit the national media spotlight, that attention has primarily been over race, but the real message we’ve got here is poverty affects all people and all races. It doesn’t discriminate, and everybody needs help at some point,” he said.

One University of Massachusetts professor who focuses on race and society, however, views this as an eternal trend of empowered groups attempting to retain social control.

“American history tells us that [there] has always been two countries,” said journalism professor Nicholas McBride. “Hard times rekindle those ever-burning fires of myth that says it is the despised other that is causing ‘us’ slotsvocarped economic and educational misery.”

McBride said he feels social divisions prevent some from attaining the same level of educational opportunity as others, and that the ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ ideal which holds that everyone has equal chances at succeeding in life is a social myth.

“Look, everybody in this country should be guaranteed opportunity,” he said. “This ‘up from your bootstraps’ mythology is just that, and the manipulators who profit from the myth just keep it going while raking in the dough.”

While McBride held that social equality is far from reality, the FMAFE’s board members say others have met their mandate welcomingly.

“We’ve had a really positive response so far,” Lake said. “We’ve raised enough money to pay for our fall scholarships; for the fall semester we’re paying five $500 scholarships, and we’ve had enough support so far that we’re increasing the spring scholarships to $1000, so we’ll do five $1000 scholarships for next spring.”

All of the organization’s funds, Lake explained, come from individual donors, not charities, foundations or think tanks.

“[The money is] coming completely from small, one-time donations on the website,” he said. “We don’t have some giant foundation or something backing us, it’s just people who believe in what we’re saying donating online.”

To apply for the scholarship, white male students can visit the Association’s website, at FMAFE.org.

Lake called the application “fairly comprehensive,” noting that “there’s a lot of stuff you have to fill out for it.”

“After you meet the initial requirements of 25 percent caucasian and male, after that it’s an academic and needs-based scholarship,” he elaborated. “Basically you just go on the website, hit apply, print it out, fill it out, get it back to us,” he continued.

Applications for the FMAFE fall 2011 scholarship are now available. They must be completed and mailed by June 1.

Sam Butterfield can be reached at [email protected]