WKU SGA passes reparations resolution

Bailey Vandiver

WKU’s Student Government Association passed a resolution to support reparations for African American students.

The resolution passed 19-10-1.

The authors, Senators Brian Anderson and Andrea Ambam, wrote in the resolution that the university should acknowledge that slavery is “a debt that will never be paid.”

Anderson and Ambam wrote that the “current achievement gap between majority and underrepresented students has roots” in slavery, when black people were barred from education, and segregation, when black people were “trapped” in underfunded institutions.

The authors mentioned the University of Wisconsin-Madison as inspiration. The Associated Students of Madison passed legislation for all black students to receive free education, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Anderson and Ambam called on WKU to follow that lead and do “more to provide for the needs of its marginalized student population.”

They also referenced problems with standardized test requirements, financial aid and the diversity of WKU’s employees.

“We demand reparations for the systemic 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,” the authors wrote in summary.

The resolution was sponsored by MyCampusToo, which is a movement to celebrate the diversity of WKU students, according to the WKU website.

WKU SGA senator Ryan Richardson said this bill was meant to draw attention to this issue. He said that “naturally” the bill drew attention within the senate chambers as well.

“There was a relative agreement amongst the senators that action needed to be taken,” Richardson said. “Of course, the method is what has been and will be disputed.”

He said that outside reactions to the resolution have largely been negative, but those are coming from people who were “not in the room.”

Richardson said that WKU does not have the financial ability to give free tuition to every black student, which is why this resolution was about sending a message.

“What I want to convey most is that a good portion of senators voted ‘yes’ knowing full well that the university would not have the ability to implement it,” Richardson said. “We wanted a very clear message that discrimination is abhorrent in all facets, as well as a wide-range of conversation to follow regarding the inequity of black people.”

Richardson said he believes the senate achieved that goal.

Richardson is an international affairs and Asian religions and culture freshman. He was recently reelected as a sophomore senator.