Liberal Students Take Lion’s Share of ‘Bipartisan’ Federal Truman Scholarships, Again

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Vasily Koloda via Unsplash

The overwhelming majority of $30,000 Federal Truman Scholarships in 2020 have been awarded to students with progressive credentials, despite the supposedly bipartisan nature of the scholarships.

Nearly five times as many Truman scholars had worked for either a Democratic politician or a progressive organization as those who had worked for a Republican politician or a conservative organization, according to an analysis by the attentive folks at The College Fix.

The recipients of the 62 Truman scholarships for 2020 were announced this week and the liberal composition of the group confirms an ongoing trend. While nearly a third (19) of the winning students had worked for either a Democratic politician or a progressive organization, just four had worked for a Republican politician or a conservative organization.

Moreover, another 25 of the recipients listed a progressive cause— such as environmental justice, LGBTQ activism, or racial bias — as one of their primary interests.

One winner, Kathryn Fleisher of the University of Pittsburgh, is “double majoring in politics and philosophy and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies,” while working on immigration issues and combating gun violence, according to the university’s newspaper.

Another recipient, Chris Avila of Williams College, “is particularly interested in an expanded use of criminal law and the power of the American prosecutor to deter polluters and ensure environmental justice.” Clemson University’s Ashni Bhojwani “plans on pursuing a JD with an emphasis on public interest law so that she can challenge institutionalized racism on a systemic level and continue her work with social justice issues and criminal justice reform.”

The representation of conservative awardees in prior years has been lower still. In 2019, just three of the Truman Scholars had worked for a Republican politician or conservative association, while more than six times as many (19) had worked for a Democratic politician or a progressive organization. The preceding year, none of the Truman award recipients self-identified as conservative or Republican, the Fix found.

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975, soon after the death of President Harry S. Truman, as a nonpartisan federal program aimed at promoting young leaders by encouraging “educated citizenship and political responsibility.” Recipients must pledge to serve three of their first seven years after graduation in public service.

The 62 new Truman Scholars were chosen from among 773 candidates nominated by 316 colleges and universities.

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