WKU SGA proposal calling for free tuition as reparations for slavery about getting conversation started on attracting more diversity

04/28/2017 03:19 PM

BOWLING GREEN – A resolution passed by the Western Kentucky University Student Council last week has got the attention of many around the country.

The resolution, which passed by a 19-10 vote with one abstention calls for, among other things, free tuition for Black students as reparations for slavery.

WKU sophomores and Student Government Association Senators Andrea Ambam from Peculiar, Missouri, an African-American, and Brian Anderson, from LaRue County, a Caucasian, co-authored the resolution, which is similar to one passed in February by students at the University of Wisconsin.

“Basically, it talks about reparations for the effects of slavery on black youths ability to get into college, and specifically to pay for college” Ambam said.

In addition to demanding free tuition for all African-American students, the resolution calls for establishing a special task force to talk about how college readiness exams like the SAT and the ACT, might uniquely disadvantage minority students. The resolutions also talks about a more holistic approach to scholarships, as well as accessing geographic locations and tuition incentives.

Anderson says he’s gotten negative feedback from some students on campus.

“Most people that look like me, do not like me right now,” Anderson said. “I think what part of being a good ally means is doing research, learning about what kind of programs that people actually want, and then when necessary, just stepping aside and the letting those people who have actually experienced these issues talk during those moments.”

WKU President Dr. Gary Ransdell released a statement saying that he understands the SGA was trying to send a message; the university will not be adopting any free tuition reparation policy any time soon.

“As we continue to work through elements of the campus diversity plan and on our recruitment and student success initiatives, we will focus on those things that help all students succeed,” Ransdell said in a statement.

Ambam says the biggest goal with the resolution was to get the conversation started.

“We knew that it would never happen,” Ambam said. “One of the main points was to attract attention about talking about education through reparation, but, we think talking about reparations through education in any way, is a good start.”

Western Kentucky University has seen its African-American enrollment drop from 2,254 or 10.75 percent of the student population in 2012, to 1,786 or 8.9 percent of the population in the fall of 2015.


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