SGA Black Lives Matter resolution: What’s next?

Wichita State Student Government Association passed a resolution last week recognizing the Black Lives Matter movement on campus, leading to the question of “what’s next?” in terms of going forward with the resolution.

Student Body President Joseph Shepard explained that the resolution holds the administration and different colleges accountable and ensures they acknowledge that “African-American students are doing disproportionately worse in terms of GPA within their colleges and overall as a university.” 

The next step, Shepard said, is making and implementing a strategic plan to ensure African-American academic success. 

Shepard said he had a one-on-one meeting with WSU President John Bardo in response to the passing of the resolution. Shepard said he has been tasked with forming a committee to complete their strategic plans goal for academic success, and meeting with Bardo was the first step.

“The committee makes sure we all come together to come up with a strategic plan to provide more academic success, and not just talk the talk but walk the walk as well,” Shepard said. “I think it’s one thing for us to say we know this is a problem. It’s another to say we know this is a problem, and we want to sit down and actually do something about it.”

Shepard said there’s a common misconception that Black Lives Matter is only concerned with police brutality involving African-Americans.

“As individuals do their research, they will find that the movement itself is not just about police brutality, but making sure African-Americans have the proper representation and a seat at the table,” Shepard said.

At last week’s SGA meeting, two senators questioned whether this resolution was in SGA’s scope. Shepard said he believes it is.

“Our job is to make sure we are advocating for the needs of students,” Shepard said. “I think that is what this resolution does. It acknowledges that we have failed our African-American students, in a way. We want to do something to empower those students and to let those current students know we care about them.”

Shepard said he urges anyone who disagrees with the resolution to read it in its entirety.

“We can remove our emotion from the situation and still see that African-American students on this campus are doing disproportionately worse than any other students in terms of GPA,” Shepard said. 

Shepard said this resolution will be a catalyst for change and support. A comment from last week’s public forum continues to resonate with him, Shepard said, pushing him to advocate for African-American students’ success.

“Students feel they were tricked into coming to our institution,” Shepard said. “They said our marketing material and recruitment was so great, that they were told there were things here for them as African-American students, and they got here and there was no support system for them. That breaks my heart.”