Members of the student government at the University of Wisconsin-Madison issued a resolution on Wednesday demanding free tuition and housing for black students. The New York Post said it was “because blacks were legally barred from education during slavery and university remains out of reach for black students today.”
The resolution stated that too much emphasis on high ACT and SAT scores “upholds ‘white supremacy’” and allows too many kids from suburban high schools to be admitted.
Besides free tuition and housing, other demands in the resolution include charging black students no fees, and allowing former inmates for admission. That’s a $20,000 “gift” for having the right skin color. Also, the student government wants UWM to spend 10% collected through donations and put it toward financial aid, “geographically weighted admissions,” and to launch a study to see if making entrance exams optional is viable. These demands are similar to those made by the Black Liberation Collective, which regularly sends demand letters like these to U.S. colleges.
The NY Post breaks down the enrollment numbers:
Black students currently make up about 2 percent of Madison enrollment. University spokeswoman Meredith McGlone noted the proportion of “students of color” has grown from 11 percent to 15 percent over the last decade. She said the school supports the spirit of the resolution but that it’s unclear whether the methods it proposes are legal or the best way to accomplish those goals.
The student council representative who authored the resolution, Tyriek Mack, said the intention is to press the school to action: “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. If no one challenges the university’s empty promises, then the racial composition will remain stagnant.”
But not every student is on board with the resolution. The NY Post quotes two.
“I wouldn’t appreciate if the school offered me free tuition just because I’m a minority,” said Yuhong Zhu, a Chinese graduate student. “We should at least have to work hard for it.”
A white student, Jared Akers, added his two cents: “That kind of seems like a handout more than doing them any favors.”
For more on why “free college” is a terrible idea, check out this Milton Friedman video from 1985. In it, he informs future New York Times columnist David Brooks that government-subsidized college only benefits middle and upper-income groups while placing an undue tax burden on poorer families who won’t see the same benefits from such a program.