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Case 92. Equality in Training Opportunities


The university in which this department operates offers graduate fellowships to students who are "disadvantaged" under the state-sponsored Graduate Opportunities Program. In practice these funds are awarded by the university at the recommendation of the graduate programs predominantly to students of color although they are also available to white students who can demonstrate sustained economic hardship, e.g., welfare recipients. The graduate program actively solicits students of color using via these funds. It allows them not only to pursue their own and the university's diversity goals, but also to stretch the meager funds they have available for graduate students support, all of which is in the form of graduate teaching assistantships. The result is that white students are awarded teaching assistantships and students of color are awarded university fellowships out of the pot that is set aside for disadvantaged students. No one has complained about this arrangement, but it is clear that white students have to work as teaching assistants to get support and that students of color have no work requirements and, on the other hand, that white students also get the teacher training and teaching experience offered by the department and students of color do not.


  1. Is the departmental practice of awarding GOP fellowships to graduate students of color with the result that it deprives them of teaching experience unethical?
  2. Is the departmental practice of awarding white students teaching assistantships for which they must work and students of color GOP fellowships for which they do not unethical?
  3. Does the fact that this practice arises from the department's effort to offer financial support to as many graduate students as possible overshadow any ethical concerns?
  4. Does the fact that it is a state/university program that constrains the department to act in the way it does when it attempts to maximize graduate student funding obviate any ethical concerns?

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