A student government resolution at the University of Wisconsin-Madison calls for free tuition and housing for Black students, the Washington Post reports.
The Associated Students of Madison, or ASM, said attending the university, which costs about $20,000 a year for undergraduates, is out of reach for most Black students for several reasons, including the legacy of slavery and the consideration of standardized test like the SAT in the application process.
According to the student government’s website, ASM is comprised of “roughly 50 elected or appointed students, 50 student employees, 12 professional staff members, and 200 student appointees on committees that hold legal rights to recommend university policies, budgets, and candidates for UW employment.”
Blacks currently represent 2 percent of student enrollment at Wisconsin’s flagship university, a university spokeswoman told the Associated Press. She added that the school supports increasing diversity but questions the legality and wisdom of the proposed method.
ASM Student Council Rep. Tyriek Mack, who authored the resolution, said it’s necessary to challenge “the university’s empty promises” about diversity. If the university isn’t pushed, then racial diversity will never be achieved.
This resolution comes at a time when racial tensions are high at the university after several racist incidents targeted Black and Jewish students. In January, a student tried to launch a White supremacist group on campus.
Reaction on campus to the proposal is mixed. The AP interviewed a Black-White biracial student who thought free tuition for Blacks is a good way to increase diversity. But a White student thought it would be an unfair “handout.”
A Chinese graduate student said he would prefers to see more scholarships than free tuition. “I wouldn’t appreciate if the school offered me free tuition just because I’m a minority,” he told the AP. “We should at least have to work hard for it.”