Well, Elmhurst College seems to embrace it! From The New York Times:
REBECCA R. RUIZ
The Common Application may have opted earlier this year not to ask students about their sexual orientation, but Elmhurst College in Illinois has recently announced that it will do so on its admission application.
Elmhurst, a private, Protestant college affiliated with the United Church of Christ — which endorsed gay marriage in 2005 — is believed to be the first college or university in the country to actively solicit an answer to the question of an applicant’s sexuality.
An affirmative answer to Elmhurst’s question, which is optional, may pay dividends: According to The Chicago Sun-Times, those who identify themselves as gay will be eligible for a diversity scholarship totaling up to a third of the cost of tuition.
Assuming that Elmhurst is asking applicants about their sexuality — and ignoring the fact that a lot of 17-and-18 year olds really aren’t sure, don’t know, are just freaking clueless — because the college sees some value in having the information, offering “diversity scholarships” for a specific answer is pretty much soliciting the specific answer rather than unbiased, accurate information.
According to the college’s website, tuition at Elmhurst College is $29,994 per year for full-time students. And if the “diversity scholarships” can total up to a third of tuition¹, Elmurst is offering up to $9,998 for a “Gay” answer. As long as you don’t have to actually prove it by fellating the admissions officer, why not save yourself nearly ten grand a year by telling the college what it obviously wants to hear? In four years, you could save more than an entire year’s tuition and total fees of $38,518!
Elmhurst College is a private school, and can do whatever it wishes as far as I am concerned². Heck, they can admit only homosexual students, if that’s what they want to do, though that might run afoul of the federal government allowing federal educational aid to be used there. But it seems just plain stupid for a school which says it is “committed to cultural diversity, mutual respect among all persons, compassion for others, honest and open communication, and fairness and integrity in all that we do,” as part of its Core Values statement would put a ten grand price tag on possibly lying.
It’s not like the administration can’t see the possibility:
(Elmhurst’s president, S. Alan ) Ray also addressed the possibility that an applicant might falsely identify as gay to earn a financial award. He wrote that such misrepresentation was “always a possibility,” citing the hypothetical example of an applicant falsely claiming ethnic minority status. He acknowledged that the scholarship opportunities attached to sexual orientation may “marginally increase the potential for pranks and fraud.” But, he concluded, “young people tend to take college applications seriously; they tend not to see them as opportunities for mischief.”
Uhhh, “up to” $9.998 isn’t an “opportunity for mischief,” but a real encouragement for fraud. But if the college wants to be stupid, that’s their business!
¹ – The story specified tuition, not other fees; a full time resident student’s total fees are $38,518. I calculated the 1/3 scholarship based only on tuition, as that was how the article referenced it.
² – I’d point out here that if Elmhurst put such a question on its employment applications, it would be breaking the law. Employment applications cannot inquire concerning things which are regarded as potential points of discrimination — race, gender, marital status, number of children, religion or physical disability — which have nothing to do with the job. Questions concerning physical limitations which do have a direct bearing on the position are allowable.