Some senators objected that the “free” tuition would actually have to be paid for by other students, but failed to overcome appeals to rectify historical injustices.
The Western Kentucky University student government voted Tuesday in favor of reparations for black students in the form of free tuition.
The resolution, which passed by a vote of 19-10-0, recommends that the university acknowledge slavery as a “debt that will never be paid” and offer free tuition to black students, reports the WKU Herald.
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In addition, the resolution asks that a special task force be created to look into test-optional admissions and admissions weighting based on geographical location, which in theory would make it easier for black students to apply and be accepted to WKU.
Andre Ambam, one of the resolution’s authors, told the Herald that racial disparity has translated into economic disparity, inhibiting black students from attending college.
“If you really care about diversity, if you really care about inclusion, if you really care about making this campus safe and accessible to everybody, having the student government’s support of reparation[s] for black students would be amazing,” Ambam said.
“This is something that I think is more importantly about sending a clear message than it is about actually trying to strive for the institution to actually give out free tuition to everybody,” added Brian Anderson, the other author of the bill.
Some senators expressed concerns about the financial burden on students who would have to cover the free tuition, either in the form of increased fees or higher taxes, but were unable to disabuse their colleagues of the notion that historical injustice must be rectified by contemporary injustice.
“It will disadvantage other people from getting the same education,” Senator William Hurst said. “I am not discounting that there is an obvious disadvantage to African-American students, but this resolution would discriminate against other populations.”
Senator Lily Nellans, however, countered that the resolution is not unfair because it makes up for the advantages that white people have historically enjoyed in American society.
“A lot of times equality can feel like oppression for those who are losing their advantage, but that’s not a reason we shouldn’t fight for equality,” Nellans said.
WKU SGA passes resolution to support reparations for black students! So proud of this school!
— CBJ (@cbjoff) April 19, 2017