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.
WKU President Gary Ransdell responded to the resolution through a statement issued Thursday afternoon.
“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 wrote.
“We appreciate the Student Government Association’s interest in these issues, but it’s important to clarify that their resolution is not an official position taken by the University. 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. 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. Our goal is to ensure that WKU is both a welcoming place and a place that focuses on persistence and success.”
Ransdell said WKU will assist low-income and first generation college students.
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.”