UW-Madison student government demands free tuition for black students

A resolution proposed by the student government at UW-Madison states that black students should be entitled to free housing, tuition, and no fees

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The student government at UW-Madison proposed free student tuition for black students last Wednesday

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, the student government at UW-Madison demanded free tuition for black students.

The resolution states all black students should be guaranteed free tuition, housing and no fees. This would save around $20,000 per student.

According to The Chicago Tribune, race relations have been a contentious issue at Madison for months. A course called “The Problem With Whiteness,” has been the source of some of this controversy, as well as dissent stirred up by a student trying to start an pro-white supremacist group.

Although black students have had difficulty getting into universities in the past due to inequality, according to the Chicago Tribune, there’s no reason why minorities should be offered free tuition.

“Black students currently make up about 2 percent of the student population,” University Spokesperson Meredith McGlone said.  “Students of color have grown from 11 percent to 15 percent over the last decade. The school supports the spirit of the resolution, but it’s unclear whether the methods it proposes are legal or the best way to accomplish these goals.”

A Chinese graduate student from Madison, Yuhong Zhu, said the resolution is awkward and that she would rather see more scholarships than just free access, according to The Chicago Tribune.

“I wouldn’t appreciate if the school offered me free tuition just because I’m a minority. We should at least have to work hard for it,” she said.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank has recently considered giving first-generation transfer students from a two-year college free tuition, and a recent $10 million donation will be used to to invest in expanding the Chancellor’s Scholarship program, which supports minorities.

At Madison, there is a program called “LEEDS” which is a scholarship program designed to attract academically talented women and students from groups historically underrepresented in the field of engineering.

Many universities across the world have programs for students of color. For example, at Eau Claire there is a program called “Blugold Beginnings.” It’s an innovative pre-college program intended to increase enrollment and retention of underrepresented minority students in higher education. It has expanded to include a campus learning community to support students admitted to the college.

Madison is also planning to build a black cultural center. This would bring about social differences and expanding ethnic courses, and staff would have more training on diversity.

Although Gov. Scott Walker has proposed an increase in budget for the UW system, there is no comment yet on whether the universities would be able to afford letting so many students in for free.

The resolution is not practical. Students are always going to have to pay set tuition rates because there is not a large enough budget for free tuition. Depending on how many students would take advantage of this idea, there would always be some question as to how fair it actually is