Once Prestigious Rhodes Scholarship Reduced to Woke Joke: One Look at Class of 2021 Tells You All You Need to Know

(AP Photo/Mississippi State University, Russ Houston)

“Rhodes Scholar.” Through the years, generally, whenever I read that such-and-such was a Rhodes Scholar, the connotation suggested a person of distinction; someone who was wise beyond most of the rest of us. Someone who was a, yeah, Rhodes Scholar.


However also through the years, my opinion of the Hallowed Halls of Academia steadily morphed into the No-Longer-Hallowed Halls of Academia, as America’s universities became hotbeds of left-wing groupthink; a groupthink mentality that preaches understanding and tolerance, all the while practicing none of the kind itself, as conservative speakers have been shredded, spat on, or banned from speaking on college campuses, altogether.

The above reality, therefore, led me to question my opinion of the once untarnishable Rhodes Scholarship, along with any number of other “distinguished” post-graduate awards.

With that thought in mind, my interest was piqued this morning by a post on Revolver titled Rhodes Scholarship Becomes Laughingstock After Embracing the Left’s “Woke Culture”, so I stopped by to check it out. Before we dig into it, below are a few snippets I grabbed from the How to Become a Rhodes Scholar: The Ultimate Guide website.

What is a Rhodes Scholar?

A Rhodes scholar is someone who has received the Rhodes Scholarship, one of the most prestigious, most selective scholarships in the world, which allows you to complete a postgraduate degree at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Thirty-two Rhodes Scholars come from the United States each year with other Rhodes scholars coming from countries around the world.

When you think of the Rhodes Scholarship, you might think of the program’s extreme selectivity, or perhaps some of its illustrious alumni, including many heads of state.

The impact of a Rhodes Scholarship is immense and carries with it many advantages. First is the opportunity to earn a degree from Oxford, one of the most renowned universities in the world.

Many Rhodes Scholars report that they also deeply value the other educational and world-expanding experiences the scholarship makes room for.

But of course, no discussion of the Rhodes would be complete without mentioning that it’s arguably the most prestigious international scholarship there is, and its name comes with a great deal of clout.


That was some pretty heady stuff right there, wasn’t it?

Anyway, the 2021 American Rhodes Scholar class, announced in late November, is, as Revolver called it, “such an orgy of left-wing identity politics it would be impossible to parody.” Here’s an overview from the Rhodes Trust press release, late last month.

This year’s American Rhodes Scholars—independently elected by 16 committees around the country meeting simultaneously—reflect the remarkable diversity that characterizes and strengthens the United States.

Twenty-one of the 32 are students of color; ten are Black, equal to the greatest number ever elected in one year in the United States. Fifteen are first-generation Americans or immigrants; and one is a Dreamer with active DACA status.

Seventeen of the winners are women, 14 are men, and one is nonbinary. These young Americans will go to Oxford next October to study in fields broadly across the social, biological and physical sciences, the humanities, and public policy.

They are leaders already, and we are confident that their contributions to public welfare globally will expand exponentially over the course of their careers.

Lest I sound “racist” here, how does 66 percent of a group of “students of color” portray an accurate representation of the “diversity” in America? It does none of the kind.

What it does illustrate is what we’ve seen clearly illustrated in America in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death while in police custody, in May. I’m not suggesting it reaches the level of the NFL, NBA, and to a lesser extent Major League Baseball, in prostration before the Black Lives Matter altar, but the message is unmistakably clear.


Here are a few of this year’s recipient bios.

Wilfried J.K. Zibell, Noorvik, is a senior at Harvard College where they major in Comparative Literature and Near Eastern Languages and Civilization. Wilfried comes from an Inuit (Nuurvik) subsistence village in the Alaskan arctic, and through education policymaking, language preservation and labor activism, has focused on the effects of colonialism. […] His senior thesis compares comparative aspects of imperialism in Yiddish, in which he has done archival research, and Inupiat poetry.

Tyrese D. Bender … has been instrumental in drafting the first-ever Diversity Strategy designed to establish a more inclusive environment at the [U.S. Military] Academy. He also established a character training protocol for 1300 cadets around issues including race, sexual harassment and assault, mental health, political activism and COVID-19.

Garima P. Desai … is passionate about using economics as a tool to solve pressing climate issues.

Jamal T. Burns[‘s] research engages colonial influences on interpretations of the masculinity of Black boys in school settings. Jamal is a leading promoter of a new debate paradigm known as performance debate.

Jeremy N. Thomas, Missouri City, Texas, is a senior at Amherst College, where he … launched the campus’s first student-run Office of Student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. He has also held numerous leadership roles in the Amherst College Black Student Union. His senior honors thesis analyzes limits on the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause, and he has published academic research on death row exonerations.

Brian Reyes … served as President of the Yale Dominican Student Association, led an initiative to guide low-income students through the U.S. naturalization process, and was a lead organizer to ensure that undocumented students in Connecticut could receive scholarships.

Carissa J. Chen, Tustin … identified the first known living descendants of Harvard’s slaves and initiated efforts to begin discussions on reparations and reconciliation to these families.


As noted by Revolver, “Five of the 32 scholars will pursue a ridiculous masters degree in “Refugee and Forced Migration Studies.” Only a handful of honorees have biographies with no political buzzwords whatsoever; they are almost certainly the most genuinely impressive winners.”

A former Rhodes Scholarship recipient told Revolver that the change has been rapid.

“The decline has been so rapid. This is a bigger change than it seems. The state committees under the old system were a bit more constrained to seek some kind of universal sense of excellence because they couldn’t just pick the winners — they had to pick the candidates from their state they thought would also impress the regional committee.

“Then, on the other side, the regional committee was constrained to picking from among the twelve-ish candidates their states sent up.

“The old system involved up to 500 people, mostly older Rhodes Scholars, interviewing across the two levels.Now the system involves perhaps 100 or 120 people, so it’s much easier to stack the entire process completely with liberals. And that’s definitely what the U.S. Secretary who runs it wants to do.”

This should surprise no one, but it is just one more example of the Left’s incessant march towards destroying America as we know it. And what better place is there to get about doing that in the No-Longer-Hallowed Halls of Academia?

After all, they had a pretty good run in the summer of 2021, didn’t they?


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