I came across this article today and cringed when I saw the headline. It only got worse as I read through it. My jaw kept dropping and dropping until it hit the floor and I had to pick it back up! I am still fuming as I try to understand their point of view and jot my thoughts down to rebuttal their insane line of reasoning.
The Student Government Association at Western Kentucky University recently voted, in a 19-10 resolution, with one abstaining, to create a ‘task force to assess the feasibility of test-optional admissions and geographically-weighted admissions.’ Their resolution stated,
“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.)”
“We need to consider making reparations in the form of more equitable college admissions policies, financial assistance and campus support and resources, and we hope this provocative statement will launch an important dialogue about how to achieve that.”
They make several assertions and claims:
- “… standardized test scores in the college admissions process restricts the college opportunities for needy students, helping higher education perpetuate inequality.”
- “… people of color are underrepresented among WKU’s tenured faculty and administrators and that such factors send a message to students of color that they are undervalued at our university.”
- “… standardized tests perpetuate and uphold white supremacy.’
- “… the arms race for merit aid only bars the low-income and minority students from attending Western Kentucky University.”
- “… discriminatory education, housing and employment policies have disproportionately held back Black Americans…”
Now, let’s look at each of their claims to see if it is true, holds any water, or has any merit.
- Standardize test scores restrict opportunities for needy students which perpetuates inequalities
Yes, it is true that standardized test scores do restrict opportunities! Colleges have a limited number of seats available therefore they have to limit admissions. It is simple economics viz. supply and demand. There are more prospective students demanding, quite literally actually, than the available supply of seats. Therefore, colleges are forced to limit admission. Just like every business, employer, or company out there, colleges want the best teachers, faculty, and students! And why shouldn’t they? So, in order to get the best students they implement standardized tests! This creates a competitive environment where students and prospects have to compete for entrance. So in fact, it’s not the tests that limit admissions, its one drive to compete and do well. If there truly exists the will, then the way will be opened up. As always, hard work and dedication are required, but that places responsibility on the test taker, not the test!
Note that these tests are standardized. That means that you get the same test, or same level of difficulty, as a black applicant, as an Asian applicant, or any other applicant. It equalizes everyone’s opportunity to be accepted ergo there is no ‘systemic denial of access.’ Each is admitted based on performance or merit. This leads me to the fourth point listed.
- Merit based aid, and admittance, prevent low-income and minority students from attending (really number four)
What I hear when I read WKU’s Student Government Association’s statement is this, “Because someone comes from a low-income household or is a minority they must not be able, based on their own accord, to merit admittance, aid, or a scholarship.” If that is true then no minority or low-income based applicant would ever get admitted or receive a scholarship. And that belief, mindset, or policy would, in and of itself, be discriminatory. Would it not?
As a counter to your claim, have you ever heard of Ben Carson? Nationally renowned, black neuro-surgeon who came from a broken family in the poorest of poor conditions? Not only did he get into college, he got into medical school, became a neuro-surgeon, and has been extremely successful! He even ran in the Republican Primaries to become their Presidential Candidate. Don’t tell me that low-income students or minorities can’t earn a scholarship! If you need another example, just look to our former president.
Earning a merit based scholarship has NOTHING to do with demographics! It does have everything to do with the amount of time, dedication, energy, and work a person puts into acquiring a scholarship. Same goes for doing well on a test. Poverty isn’t an excuse in today’s digital age either – computers are available for use at internet cafes, public libraries, or simply by borrowing from a neighbor. They are readily accessible. So are books! The opportunities to learn, improve, and progress are endless; there really is no excuse for someone that is willing to sacrifice!
- Because colored people are not equally represented in the faculty and staff, students and prospective students of color automatically feel undervalued and therefore not welcome
Yes, it is possible a minority student may feel out place or not welcome when not surrounded by peers and administrators of the same race or ethnicity. I admit, that is a real possibility. And I know how that feels. I’ve live in Asia and South America where I was always the minority. But, the SGA forgets that the minority students they are referring to grew up in America where the predominant race/ethnicity is white. It’s not like these minorities are coming from the Sahara and seeing a white person for the first time. Granted, that’s possible but not probable. Furthermore, how many Asian students are getting admitted into prestigious colleges across the U.S.? How many of them are complaining about disproportionate representation? They actually tend to out-perform their American peers, even when they are not competing with a home field advantage. If they can be so successful, what’s preventing a black person from doing the same?
As I stated previously, much like a business, colleges want to recruit the best job candidates they can. They want their school to be in tip top shape and ran by the best people possible. That’s how they make their money (colleges are businesses). That is precisely why the Ivy League schools attract the best students, because they are the best schools. And those graduates normally get hired by some of the country’s best companies. It has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, gender orientation, or any other minority status. It has EVERYTHING to do with performance and merit!
- How do standardized test support white supremacy?
Are administrators sneaking answers to white kids prior to the test? Do white students get an easier version of the test? Are they born automatically knowing the answers to the tests they’ll take about twenty years later? Are they graded differently? Are the tests shorter? Are missed questions thrown out for white kids guaranteeing them an automatic high score? Are minorities graded more harshly? Do administrators give minorities the wrong answers on the tests? Are minorities’ tests harder?
How in the world do standardized tests support white supremacy? I can’t even begin to wrap my head around that one!
- Education, housing, and employment policies inherently discriminate against Black Americans
Where’s the proof? Show me that such policies discriminate and then we can talk. I have yet to see an application that states, “If you’re black, don’t bother”. In fact, I’ve actually seen the opposite. Affirmative Action and EEO make it so that employers and colleges are forced to hire and accept, respectively, minorities proportionate to the surrounding population regardless of performance or merit. So tell me, how are those policies discriminatory in nature? Or have I missed something?
I also have one question for you that I did not find while reading about your proposal. How do you plan to provide ‘full and free access for all black people’ (and others mentioned)? Who is going to pay for their tuition? You? The college? The government? What’s the plan to pay for it? And if you extend this opportunity to blacks, and you want things to be truly equal, shouldn’t it be extended to everyone else? Wouldn’t that be true equality?
I would love to discuss and debate your resolution and proposal. You stated that you ‘hope this provocative statement will launch an important dialogue…’ Well, it has at least done that. Consider this a response. I’ll be waiting for yours.
p.s. You specifically called for reparations for black students. May I remind you that reparations are paid by criminals for wrongs committed against an individual or group of individuals. What wrongs have been committed that necessitate the payment of reparations?