There is no shortage of terrible policies on WKU’s campus, and while this column is mostly dedicated to cataloging those policies and how they affect the student body, it is also important that we ask why these policies persist in the first place. The student body’s frustration with the administration stems from its habit of constantly relying on public relations stunts rather than actually addressing issues.
For example, there has been an ongoing effort to establish a black cultural center on WKU’s campus. This issue was recently brought up at the “Black Lives Matter: Continuing the Conversation” event held earlier this semester by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Sarah Taylor, who also goes by Sarah Williams, is a graduate assistant for the African American Studies Program who helped coordinate the event.
The issue resurfaced last week when President Gary Ransdell offered a house on Normal Street next to the Alpha Omicron Pi house as a space for the center to be housed. According to an article published in the Herald last Thursday, the original proposal of a black cultural center was presented to Ransdell in May 2013 by a group of students in the Project Freedom School course.
However, the offer comes with a price tag of $1900 a month. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion would rent the space and be responsible for any upkeep expenses. It’s clear that WKU aims to play landlord without taking on any of the responsibilities, adding insult to injury in a long struggle to see the dream of a black cultural center come to fruition.
In my opinion, Ransdell’s offer was a gesture to save face for the administration. At the very least, administrators can now say they made an offer. I think this offer is a terrible deal. What this tells me — and tells the group of activists who have been working to establish a black cultural center — is that the administration thinks little of minority students on campus.
These public relations gestures are not in short supply. People may recall last semester when the university offered to create a few dozen all-gender bathrooms. However, they placed these bathrooms in the most tucked-away, inaccessible places. I have only been able to find one; it was on the bottom floor of DSU. At least now the administration can say it gave something, however small, to LGBT students.
As much as I would like to place the blame totally on the administration, it’s not entirely their fault. Collective student apathy makes us just as culpable in poor administrative policies. In the three years I’ve been at WKU, I’ve participated in a handful of protests, and the turnout, on the whole, was dismal. The administration will continue to walk over us and implement subpar policies until we start to turn out and show up.
If you want change, feel injustice or are tired of feeling that this school thinks of you primarily as something to suck money out of, then it is time we speak out. When few students speak up, the powers that be might think we have nothing to say. I know that is not the case.