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Colorado Attorney General: College Scholarships Can’t Be Race-Based

December 25, 1995

DENVER (AP) _ The state attorney general sent a secret memo to officials at the state’s universities and colleges telling them they no longer can award scholarships based on ethnicity or race, The Rocky Mountain News reported Monday.

The Dec. 13 memo said the information was ``privileged attorney-client″ communication not to be distributed to the public, the newspaper said.

``This ruling could seriously damage minority recruitment and retention efforts at some universities,″ said Geri Reinardy, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, a board that oversees the state’s 28 colleges and universities.

She said the commission intends to comply with Norton’s guidelines. No state or federally funded scholarships are awarded on a racial basis in Colorado, but memorial, foundation or institutional scholarships given to thousands of students might be affected, she said.

Attorney General Gale Norton’s opinion says schools cannot participate in selecting recipients for these privately financed scholarships.

While not commenting specifically on the memo, Norton said Friday that recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have restricted the government’s ability to treat people differently because of ethnicity or race.

``There are narrow circumstances where you can use race as a factor in making decisions,″ Norton said.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a sweeping ruling that a University of Maryland scholarship program restricted to black students was a form of unconstitutional reverse discrimination.

The ruling was the most recent in a string of decisions restricting affirmative action on campuses.

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