Students at Western Kentucky University voted this week in favor of a resolution seeking to provide free tuition to black students as reparations for slavery.
The Student Government Association passed the resolution Wednesday with a vote of 19-10 to provide black students a free education and free access to the public Bowling Green campus, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
“We demand reparations for the systematic 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 members Andrea Ambam and Brian Anderson wrote.
“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,” Anderson told the student newspaper, College Heights Herald.
The resolution also called for the school to create a task force to research test-optional and geographically weighted admissions.
SGA President Jay Todd Richey told The Bowling Green Daily News that the long-shot resolution is simply meant as a “conversation starter.”
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 in an email.
Some cheered the measure.
“WKU SGA passes resolution to support reparations for black students! So proud of this school!” Chris Joffrion tweeted.
But others disagreed, arguing that other students would eventually have to foot the bill.
“I support the idea of minimizing inequality, but i wont pay higher tuition rates. if wku covers it that’s fine, but i’ll only pay for mine,” user @_WhatTheDickens tweeted.
WKU President Gary Ransdell said he appreciated the interest in the issue — but rejected the idea.
“I have read the SGA resolution, and I understand that their intent was to spark a conversation, but the university will not adopt any such policy,” Ransdell said.
“I’ve spent much of the last year engaging in dialogue with black student leaders on campus, which has led to a greater understanding and appreciation of their experiences and priorities.”