Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are taking a stand and requesting new ways to allow minorities to be a bigger part of their campus.
Their biggest proposal? Allowing all black students free tuition, housing, and zero fees at the university. They argue that blacks were legally barred from education during slavery and the university remains out of reach for black students today.
Members of the Associated Students of Madison wrote the proposal.
One of their solutions is that the university should make tests such as the SAT/ACT optional — or eliminate them. The resolution said that the tests “restrict opportunities for the poor.”
While their reasoning may be a stretch, these tests can be a problem for students who lack test taking skills but are qualified for other reasons. According to Chancellor Rebecca Blank, ACT and SAT scores are not the only factor in admission to the University in Madison, but their inclusion is required under regent policy.
The students also requested that 10 percent of the university’s donations go to increase financial aid for minorities and incorporate geographical-weighted admissions, which would help to better represent those from poorer neighborhoods or who are under-represented become a greater part of the school’s enrollment.
The university received $512 million from donors in 2015-2016. A majority of this was spent on research programs, need-based financial aid to students, and athletics. Of their total revenue for the year, roughly 173.5 million is spent on student financial aid.
The university has proposed measures to help increase minorities but hasn’t pursued any of them.
“If no one challenges the university’s empty promises, then the racial composition will remain stagnant,” says Tyriek Mack, an ASM Student Council representative and author of the resolution.
But what kind of attitude could this give potential college applicants? That you don’t have to work hard. Such a measure also discounts the work done by students who study day in and day out to maintain scholarships.
Instead of handouts, a better solution could be offering more scholarships or financial aid as suggested by Chinese graduate student, Yuhong Zhu.
“I wouldn’t appreciate if the school offered me free tuition just because I’m a minority,” he said. “We should at least have to work hard for it.”
Blacks make up only 2 percent of Madison Enrollment, 6 percent of the state of Wisconsin, and 12 percent of the U.S population. Of course if you offer free tuition to blacks at the university you will have an increase in applicants. That does not seem like a solid solution. If you make admissions geographically weighted, this could sway the school from accepting students who have a better application to attend the school than someone who is accepted because they live in an underrepresented area.
“We do not believe the actions called for by ASM, including geographically-weighted admissions, are an effective way to expand access to underrepresented students,” said McGlone.
It does not seem like the students are taking the situation lightly, perhaps they may look back on their proposal and make more suggestions that the school could enforce, or keep pushing.
By Nikki Iannace