Two weeks ago, the University of Connecticut rescinded the acceptance of 13-year-old Autum Ashante, declaring her not “academically ready”— although she has an IQ test score of 149.
Autum’s father, Batin Ashante, was reportedly enraged by the university’s decision, calling it “B.S.” He told reporters that his daughter was “devastated.”
However, the Ashante’s weren’t the only ones outraged by such news.
Josephine Minnow, a University of Connecticut alumna, discovered Autum’s story and immediately responded.
“I love my Alma Mater, but I became outraged that they would deny such talent,” Minnow said.
Minnow’s outrage led her to start a petition to overturn the university’s decision.
The electronic petition was engineered after Minnow spoke with officials at UConn’s African-American Cultural and Alumni Centers. She said she wants to eventually approach the institution’s admissions office, but would like to have a strong number of signatures to make her plea.
“There are just as many people outraged as I am,” she said.
Emails from Minnow have been sent to UConn officials, however, no response has been returned.
Minnow, who graduated from UConn in 2010, said her goal is to have close to a thousand signatures, though, a few hundred would be good enough.
While Minnow would like to get as many signatures as possible, she warns that “time is of the essence,” as UConn is set to start it’s Fall semester by the end of August. The goal is to get Autum enrolled by that time. Minnow said that the Ashante’s are still relocating to Connecticut, as they made the decision when they first learned of Autum’s acceptance.
When news broke of her acceptance, Autum’s telling story went viral. Videos of her performing poems of Black nationalism were discovered on YouTube. However, some found her poems too radical.
While Minnow said she does not want to believe this incident is racially embedded, she lamented, “It’s hard to not think that way.”
Minnow theorized that some prestigious alumni of the institution may have got hold of Ashante’s radical views and developed “ill” feelings toward her, however, she hopes that isn’t the case.
If Autum attends the institution, she wouldn’t be the first youngster to do so. According to Minnow, a 12-year-old white boy enrolled in the institution while she attended.
“If [UConn] can afford [him] that opportunity, why can’t they afford Autum that same opportunity?” she queried.
Minnow said this mission is personal for her because she sees a lot of herself in Autum, and shares a few commonalities aside from being accepted to the same college.
“[We both are] from the Bronx and grew up in a single-parent household,” she said.
Minnow thinks Autum would be a valuable asset to the institution’s legacy, and hopes her petition will make a difference.
“I think UConn should be more than happy to accept an African-American girl with such potential and talent to call their own.”