A Western Washington University group called the Student Assembly for Power and Liberation has created a petition with a hefty budget. Their demand: the creation of the College of Power and Liberation at the university.
USA Today reports that the reason for the petition for the college is to stand for the marginalized and underrepresented people in both history and on campus. The studying that will take place in this college will be under the areas of social justice and the histories of misrepresented and underrepresented groups of people.
The demand for the creation of this college comes with a hefty budget. On top of the demand to create a new facility (although they are accepting the alumni center as a temporary space) the students want $50,000 for an opening event and $45,000 per year for de-colonial work. The group defined this work as anything that provides resources to learn about these marginal groups, support non-academic goals, and provide different training services and workshops for students about these issues.
WWU would also have to pay for the creation and salary of a 15-student committee called The Office for Social Transformation. The goal of this group of students is to “monitor, document, and archive all racist, anti- black, transphobic, cissexist, misogynistic, ablest, homophobic, islamophobic, and otherwise oppressive behavior on campus.” Students would also have direct input and say on the faculty that is hired for the college.
Part of the college’s annual fund would go to an emergency fund to help students from low-income, minority students chosen by the committee and faculty of the college.
This petition has currently over 500 signatures, but the administration of WWU has not made any direct comments about it (the full petition can be read here). Some people are not happy about it.
The University President, Bruce Shepard, emailed USA Today and stated that the demands went against the principles that the university stands for. He wrote that the language used seems too exclusive and threatening for academic freedom. The demand for money without any idea of a way for funding the college also hit a nerve with him. Other critics are also not happy with the demands of the petition.
The ideas and motives behind this new college are prominent and crucial. All of the racism and injustice that seems to be going on at college campuses needs to come to an end. But these demands are causing mixed reactions among people. Probably the most difficult part about this plan: universities don’t like it when students demand lots of money.
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