16 AUGUST 1930, Page 13

The Rhodes Scholarships

AN OPEN LETTER TO TILE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR." SIR,—The Rhodes Trustees have, the writer sincerely believes, made a serious mistake. With due deference to the Trustees and to the American Secretary, Frank Aydelotte, whose friendship is highly esteemed by the writer, he cannot, as a former Rhodes Scholar who appreciates the opportunity which a scholarship affords any American youth, permit the mistake to go unchallenged.

By an Act of Parliament the Rhodes Trustees are now permitted to change the method of selecting Rhodes Scholars in the United States ; and they propose to exercise this privilege when the American Scholars are selected next December. They propose to adopt the plan suggested by the American Secretary, Frank Aydelotte, that is, to abolish State lines and elect candidates by districts. Heretofore, each State in the American Union has been entitled to, and has usually elected, two Rhodes Scholars every three years. In addition there has been one Scholar elected from the United States at large. The States have been divided into groups so that thirty-two Scholars, with a Scholar-at-large, have been chosen each year.

Now, however, the Trustees, adopting the Aydelotte plan, propose that the thirty-two Scholars be selected from eight districts, the districts composed of six States each. Each State is to nominate two candidates to appear before the District Selection Committee. Each District Committee is to select four Scholars from the twelve applicants, appearing before it. The purpose of the change, so its proponents state, is to raise the standard of the Scholars.

At first blush this change in the method of selecting American Scholars may not appear very material. But there is considerably more to it than meets the eye at a casual glance.

1. It is a total departure from the literal terms of Rhodes' will. " I appropriate two of the American Scholarships to each of the States and Territories of the United States of America," said Mr. Rhodes in his Will. The language used is clear and concise and permits of no other construction than that Mr. Rhodes wished scholars to be selected from each State.

The writer, therefore, proceeds on the theory that Cecil Rhodes desired that English culture and ideals should be diffused by an equal distribution of Scholars in all the States. In short, that he did not desire that there should only be certain centres into which English culture and ideals should be brought but that the country as a whole should feel the effects of, and have the benefit of, the influence of his Scholars. But under the plan which the Trustees propose to put into effect in December Rhodes' evident desire must necessarily be defeated, as will be shown more explicitly later.

2. It is a positive discrimination against some of the States of the American Union. Under the Aydelotte plan it is entirely possible that one State shall have two Scholars elected the same year and that two States shall have the entire four Scholars allotted to the district. Thus it is possible for sixteen States to have the thirty-two candidates and the other thirty-two States to have none. Certainly not even the Rhodes Trustees would wish this to happen year after year. Yet it is not only entirely possible, it is even fairly probable.

With all due deference to the Trustees it is highly possible that they have not received the full benefit of the views of the plan's opponents. True, the Secretary of the Rhodes Trust, Philip Kerr, now Marquess of Lothian, was sent to the United States to study the matter. But with all due respect to Lord Lothian, and the writer is convinced that he studied the question with an open mind, it is a fact that he got no further South than Memphis and no further West than Chicago. If the writer is mistaken about Lord Lothian's itinerary he will be glad to stand corrected. It is respectfully submitted that Lord Lothian met for the most part only proponents of the plan. Quite naturally his attention was attracted more to the merits of the plan than to its demerits.—I am, Sir, &c., Louis M. JIGGITTS.

Mississippi, and St. John's (Oxford).