on April 20, 2017 in World News

SGA passes resolution supporting reparations for black students

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Western Kentucky University’s Student Government Association passed a resolution Tuesday supporting reparations for African-American students.

The resolution calls on WKU to create a task force to “assess the feasibility of test-optional admissions and geographically-weighted admissions,” citing research showing that using standardized test scores in the college admissions process “restricts the college opportunities for needy students, helping higher education perpetuate inequality.”

The resolution passed with a margin of 19-10, with one person declining to vote.

 SGA senators Andrea Ambam and Brian Anderson wrote the resolution. Anderson said he and Ambam talked a lot about overcoming racial inequality as a society in drafting the resolution. He said they were inspired by a similar resolution endorsed by students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Daily News contacted Bob Skipper, WKU’s media relations director, for a comment from President Gary Ransdell. Ransdell declined to comment. The Daily News also contacted but has not heard back from incoming WKU President Timothy Caboni and Lynne Holland, WKU’s dean of students and chief diversity officer.

The resolution’s authors contend that financial aid isn’t enough to cover the costs of college, that people of color are underrepresented among WKU’s tenured faculty and administrators and that such factors send a “message to students of color that they are undervalued at our university.”

“To their white counterparts, their expectation is that people of color work at the lowest levels of the organizations they lead,” the resolution reads.

The resolution also states that “standardized tests perpetuate and uphold white supremacy.”

“It is clear from research that students and families do not understand what this means, and that the use of test scores in admissions is a defining attribute of the institution and prominent piece of our image,” the resolution reads. “Additionally, the ‘arms race’ for merit aid only bars the low-income and minority students from attending Western Kentucky University.”

As a result, the resolution’s authors demand “full and free” access to WKU for black students.

 “We demand reparations for the systemic denial of access to high quality educational opportunities in the form of full and free access for all black people (including undocumented, currently and formerly incarcerated people to Western Kentucky University.)”

SGA President Jay Todd Richey described the resolution as a “conversation starter” in a statement sent via text message.

“Due to discriminatory education, housing and employment policies that have disproportionately held back Black Americans, we believe this resolution is ultimately a conversation starter for discussing how to make college both more affordable and accessible for communities of color and marginalized people in general,” he wrote.

“People can debate the prudence of actually eliminating tuition for all Black students, and it’s extremely unlikely regardless, but the point is to have a real conversation about how we eliminate racial disparities in higher education,” Richey continued. “We need to consider making reparations in the form of more equitable college admissions policies, financial assistance and campus support and resources, and we hope this provocative statement will launch an important dialogue about how to achieve that.”

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.

http://www.bgdailynews.com/news/sga-passes-resolution-supporting-reparations-for-black-students/article_8daeb133-844e-5052-a5ac-87189800ef25.html

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