The University of Wisconsin-Madison student government is pushing forward the idea that black students should be offered free tuition and free housing at the school because of the nation’s troubling history that legally barred black people from receiving an education during slavery.
According to the Associated Press, the Associated Students of Madison believe that the university remains out of reach for black students today, citing that students from suburban high schools are overrepresented. The group added that the consideration of standardized test scores—such as the ACT and SAT—in applications restricts opportunities for poor students, upholding “white supremacy.”
As AP notes, race relations have been strained at the school, especially after news broke that a student who was trying to start a white nationalist group on campus had actually pleaded guilty in the arson of two black churches.
The university has proposed some initiatives to improve diversity, but the student body group is looking for more than just promises.
“The university’s rhetoric suggests that it is committed to diversity and inclusion, so this legislation compels the university to move towards action—which is imperative,” ASM Student Council Rep. Tyriek Mack told AP in a statement. “If no one challenges the university’s empty promises, then the racial composition will remain stagnant.”
Mack authored a resolution pushed forth by the group demanding free access to the university for all potential black students, including former inmates. The cut in costs would save a black resident undergraduate student about $20,000 a year.
The resolution also calls on the university to use 10 percent of its donations to boost financial aid and look into the possibility of test-optional and geographically weighted admissions, AP notes.
According to the newswire, black students make up about 2 percent of Madison’s enrollment. University spokesperson Meredith McGlone said that the percentage of “students of color” has grown from 11 percent to 15 percent in the last decade, adding that the school supports the spirit of the resolution but is unclear whether what it is proposing is legal or the best way to accomplish diversity goals.
Read more at the Associated Press.