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UA student proposes George Floyd memorial scholarship

Courtesy Dorthea Stephenson

University of Arizona student Dorthea Stephenson created a George Floyd memorial scholarship petition. Courtesy Dorthea Stephenson.

A George Floyd memorial scholarship was proposed at the University of Arizona by student Dorthea Stephenson.

Stephenson created the petition on Thursday, June 4, and as of Sunday, June 14, the petition had received 2,703 signatures. Stephenson started this petition to UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins, Provost Liesl Folks, Dean of Students Kendal Washington White and Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Kasey Urquidez.

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In the petition Stephenson stated, “The last few weeks have been emotionally strenuous on the black community; another black man’s life has been unjustly taken due to the discriminatory and heinous practices of corrupt policemen.” She also stated how there is no better time than the present to take action and to push for change on campus. 

Her goal is to help the community, support future Black leaders and to push for change by creating this scholarship.

The petition was created after a video surfaced of George Floyd being killed by Minneapolis police. 

“I created this proposal because I felt really inspired to invoke some change on campus,” Stephenson said in an email. “All too often, we see people wanting to do better in the future, when really the time to do better is now.”

Stephenson’s goal is to empower the students at the UA to want to engage in social justice, all the while exploring and celebrating all the beautiful and diverse communities the UA campus has to offer. 

“I have seen too many colleagues give up the opportunity to attend our institution or give up the chance to pursue activism on our campus because they do not have the resources; they are forced to turn their attention elsewhere for the sake of survival,” Stephenson explained.

Her hope is that this scholarship will encourage dialogue among students who are committed to making a positive impact in the UA community. Stephenson also hopes to give those students the resources to support their endeavors.

When Stephenson first started the petition, she wasn’t expecting to garner as much support as she did. 

“Not only were my friends and family providing me steadfast support, but my professors and members of the Tucson community were more than happy to give their support to this cause,” Stephenson said in an email. 

Stephenson contacted Robbins about proposing the petition. 

“He had responded just as I had hoped; he was so compassionate and encouraged me to continue to push for change,” Stephenson said. “He encouraged the establishment of the scholarship and helped me connect with people on campus who could make this a reality.”

According to Liz Warren-Pederson of the UA Foundation in an email, the goal is “to create a scholarship, any donor/entity must have $25,000 to establish an endowment or a restricted agreement for $5,000/year for 5 years.”

Stephenson stated that since the petition reached the goal, she is now working with some staff at the UA to work on finding a home for the scholarship. The next step is to start strategizing the funding for the scholarship.

“At the moment, I have begun to refine what I want this scholarship to look like, and I’ve received some advice from peers on what we want achieved through starting this scholarship,” Stephenson said in an email. 

She has a meeting on Monday, June 22, with some individuals that will hopefully provide a home for the scholarship so they can move forward with the process. 

Follow Jillian Bartsch on Twitter

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