Auburn's participation in the American Talent Initiative is awaiting approval from University President Steven Leath and other administration after the memorandum proposed by Student Government President Dane Block passed.
The memorandum, brought to the floor by Block, entailed Auburn University's possible participation in the American Talent Initiative, a group of universities working to enroll 50,000 lower-income students by 2025. There are currently 296 colleges and universities working with the non-profit organization.
"We believe Auburn needs the accountability and initiative on campus to match the strong desire from administration to serve the state," Block told The Plainsman. "Moving forward, if we have the passion and drive to create positive change on campus and match that with the access to a wealth of knowledge and best practices from other institutions in being a part of ATI, the sky is the limit to what we can accomplish together."
According to the American Talent Initiative, the program began recruiting in 2016. University of North Carolina, South Carolina University, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt and the University of Maryland are all schools involved with ATI.
According the ATI invitation to enroll, the goals are to recruit students from a more diverse socioeconomic background. They hope to ensure the admittance of low- and moderate-income students while prioritizing need-based financial aid.
"The American Talent Initiative is something the SGA has researched, benchmarked with other peer institutions and sought guidance on from several different areas," Block said. "By bringing this to the student Senate and receiving the student support, we are able to ensure that the student voice is heard at all levels of our University."
In 2016, only 13 percent of Auburn students were recipients of Pell Grants — compared to the 66 percent of students funded by any federal, state, local or institutional scholarships, according to the Tuition Tracker by the Hechinger Report.
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Auburn University has a history of issues with demographics. According to the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California, Auburn ranking in the bottom 20 percent of colleges for race equity.
At the time, Auburn's black student population rested at 6.7 percent.
"As SGA, it is our order of business to represent the student voice and ensure that it is brought to the table in conversations had at all levels," Block said. "Our administration supports the student voice above all else. I believe this is the most unique thing to Auburn University."
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