Western Kentucky University’s Student Government Association passed a resolution on Tuesday to support reparations for African-American in the university.
The resolution calls to create a task force to assess the feasibility of test-optional admissions and geographically-weighted admissions. Research showed that using the standardized test scores in the college admissions restricts college opportunities for needy students.
The resolution was passed with a margin of 19-10, one person declined to vote.
SGA senators Andrea Ambam and Brian Anderson authored the resolution. Anderson and Ambam want to overcome racial inequality as a society in drafting the resolution. Anderson said they were inspired by a similar resolution endorsed by students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
WKU President Gary Ransdell responded to the resolution through a statement issued Thursday afternoon saying student success is an important ongoing discussion at Western Kentucky University, and the recruitment, persistence and success of underrepresented minority students is a daily focus across this institution, Ransdell said the Student Government Association’s interest in the issues was appreciated by the university, but the university will not adopt any such policy. He already engaged in dialogue with black student leaders on campus last year, which has led to a greater understanding and appreciation of their experiences and priorities. The university’s goal is to ensure that WKU is both a welcoming place and a place that focuses on persistence and success.
Ransdell said WKU will provide financial aid for low-income and first generation college students.
The resolution’s authors contest that financial aid is not enough to cover the costs of college. People of color are underrepresented among WKU’s tenured faculty and administrators, these factors send a “message to students of color that they are undervalued at our university.”
The resolutions states “To their white counterparts, their expectation is that people of color work at the lowest levels of the organizations they lead.” The resolution also states that “standardized tests perpetuate and uphold white supremacy.”
The research shows students and families do not understand what that means, and that the use of test scores in admissions is a defining attribute of the institution and prominent piece of the university’s image
As a result, the resolution’s authors demands reparations for the systemic denial of their 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 sent via text message saying “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”.
Richey added they need to consider making reparations in the form of fair college admissions policies, financial assistance and campus support and resources. They hope this provocative statement will launch an important dialogue about how they can achieve that.