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Students at Wisconsin university demand free tuition for black students

Brooklyn College students walk between classes on campus, Wednesday Feb. 1, 2017, in New York. Students say they welcome Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tuition-free proposal for state colleges, but it represents about a third of the typical four-year student’s total college bill only--room and board are the bigger ticket items. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The student government of the University of Wisconsin-Madison decided on Wednesday that black students, including former inmates, should be given free tuition, housing, and access to the university.

The Associated Students of Madison adopted a resolution saying that all black students should receive free education because blacks were denied an education during slavery and because they say that the university is "out of reach" for black students, according to the Associated Press.

It also says that students hailing from suburban areas are overrepresented at the school because the school requires ACT and SAT scores for application consideration, and that the requirement of those test scores in the application process is an example of "white supremacy." The students contend that taking ACT and SAT scores into consideration for acceptance to the university denies lower income students the opportunity to enroll at the university.

The resolution would end up saving each black student around $20,000 in tuition and housing. Black students make up around 2 percent of the student community at the Madison UW flagship campus, and has grown by about 15 percent in recent years.

The resolution also says the university should dedicate 10 percent of donations to help with financial aid and study the option of admissions based on geographic location along with putting less weight on ACT and SAT test scores. The demands are similar to that of the Black Liberation Collective, a group dedicated to bringing freedom and liberation for all black people, according to their website.

This proposed resolution comes after several racially-charged incidents occurred on campus within the last year. In 2016, one student spat on and shouted racial obscenities at a black student, swastikas and pictures of Adolf Hitler were posted on a Jewish student's door, and a student was arrested after allegedly spray-painting messages about racism on campus buildings. Just last month, a student who had previously been arrested for burning down predominantly black churches in the area attempted to start a white supremacist group on campus, an idea he eventually backed down on after the student body railed against the idea.

In August, the university announced plans to build a black cultural center to help encourage discussions about racial and societal differences. It would also hold diversity training for students and staff.

The author of the resolution, Tyriel Mack, suggested in a statement that the school needed to back up their words with actions. "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," he said. "If no one challenges the university's empty promises, then the racial composition will remain stagnant."

University spokesman John Lucas said that school officials are reviewing the resolution.

 

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