For those non-minority parents who struggle to pay their children’s college tuition, things may get worse.
On Tuesday, the student government at Western Kentucky University voted, 19-10, in support of free tuition for black students as a means to apologize for slavery.
The “reparation” bill’s co-author, Andre Ambam, said that it will level the economic playing field for black students who cannot afford to go to WKU as well as be a symbolic apology by the current generation of white students for racial oppression:
“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.
If adopted by the administration, black students would be easily admitted; tests administered to students for admittance would be dropped for blacks seeking to enroll, and blacks in certain sections of the country where they are disadvantaged–one presumes this means the inner city and South—would be automatically enrolled.
But not everyone in the student senate is in favor of free tuition for blacks and notes that it will place the economic burden on other students and their parents, and hence would create a new type of discrimination.
While acknowledging there is “an obvious disadvantage to African-American students,” student senate member William Hurst stated that “it will disadvantage other people from getting the same education.” Hurst and his compatriots argue that others will have to pay higher taxes or tuition to implement these reparations.
Moreover, Hurst and other dissenters from the resolution see injustice in making white students suffer for oppression against blacks that they had nothing to do with.
Of these critics, Senator Lilly Nellans sees a scramble to keep their historically racial advantage over blacks:
“A lot of times equality can feel like oppression for those who are losing their advantage.” She adds, “but that’s not a reason we shouldn’t fight for equality,”
Against those who state that free tuition should either be for everyone or no one, the resolution’s co-author Brian Anderson disagrees and sees political symbolism as more important than anything else:
“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,” he said.