Merger of HBCUs; When Separate is Equal

I’m quite sure as the product of what will bethree historically black colleges and univerisities (HBCUs) that you all know where I stand on this matter.  But the state of Georgia is in a bind like most other states as far as budgets are concerned.  Many of these states, counties and cities are about one step away from cutting essential services such as police and fire, just like Gary, Indiana had to do earlier this year, most of which is due to this recession that we’ve found ourselves in due to trickle-down economics, the war in Iraq and generally a president who was just waiting for this day when he could buy his retirement house in Preston Hollow outside of Dallas and shuffle this mess onto the next one, even it would have been McCain.

Well, this is Georgia.

We all know just how Republican and conservative minded this state really is.  Obama got creamed down here only getting 45% of the vote, and it was no shock that incumbent U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss won the election by such a margin.  But, we see how Georgians process things.  Somehow they have imagined that the message of being a “firewall” against a Democratic Congress and Obama, and sticking to conservative values would fly in all these other states except the Deep South.  Be that as it may, why would a representative of this state expect the fiscally responsible idea to merge Savannah State and possibly Albany State Universities with other traditionally white institutions.  In fact schools that prohibited enrollment of students with my skin color whereas institutions such as Savannah State, Albany State never once prohibited white students from enrolling.

Just ask recent Morehouse College valedictorian class of 2008 Joshua Packwood.

Here’s and excerpt from the story:

The chairman of a key state Senate committee wants the University System to consider merging historically black public colleges with nearby white-majority schools to save money.

In making the suggestion Monday, Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Seth Harp (R-Midland) immediately ran into opposition from supporters of the black schools who say they serve an important role as independent campuses.

I think it’s a bad idea,” said Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), who has taught political science at two historically black private colleges, Morehouse and Morris Brown.

But Harp said the University System, which has 35 public schools and a $2.3 billion state budget this year, will have to make some hard choices to come up with budget cuts that could top $200 million.

And he said in two cities, Savannah and Albany, white- and black-majority schools are part of the legacy of segregation.

“The white schools were begun as segregation schools. It’s time Georgia closed that ugly chapter,” Harp said during a hearing on the University System’s budget Monday.

Harp suggested the system consider merging two Savannah schools — historically black Savannah State University and historically white-majority Armstrong Atlantic State University. And he said the system should look into merging another historically black college, Albany State, and white-majority two-year Darton College in Albany.

Consolidating the schools would reduce administrative costs and potentially cut duplication of similar academic programs.

System Chancellor Erroll Davis said the decision won’t be based solely on financial considerations.

“You can make obvious arguments about the economics of it, but I don’t think economics will drive the decision,” Davis said. “It’s going to be a political decision, not an economic decision.”

You can read the rest if you click here.

The story goes on to express sentiment against it.  Honestly as an accounting major in undergrad (yeah, whoda thunk it) it makes fiscal sense to do so.  I wouldn’t have any problem with it.  Although, it begs the question of the historicity of the schools and what retentions would remain if the schools were merged.  As an accounting major we had to take micro and macro economics.  Our macroeconomics taught us about something I had always heard growing up, but never put quite so succinctly: opportunity costs is when you give up something in order to gain something else.  The question really is how bad do you want it?

The HBCU is a lived experience.  It’s just like being black, you don’t know about it until you’ve lived it.  You don’t know about the crappy freshman dorm rooms, or the lunch ladies who always speak to you and tell you to keep on keepin’ on and make sure you have an extra scoop of rice with your plate, or the fact that people like you from your same background are accomplished professors who know you by name and have a vested intrest in seeing you suceed or the professor who invites you to their church or home with them for Thanksgiving because you’re far away from home.

I’m sure I could go on and others could add their own HBCU experience, but it’s something many of us would fight tooth and nail for and would give up our lives to see preserved in its truest form at any cost.  I guess that’s because many of us already have.

Do you think HBCUs are relevant in the 21st century?  Why or why not?  Is is true that what HBCUs have as far as education is concerned that they lack in administration?  Come on share your best and worst moment of attending and HBCU for undergrad!!!

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

10 thoughts on “Merger of HBCUs; When Separate is Equal

  1. I decided to attend an HCBU because I knew that after college the rest of my life would be about working twice as hard as whites for less credit. I wanted to attend college where I would be judged by my merit, not flunked in classes because of my character. I wanted to participate in extracurricular activities. Only at an HCBU do the cheerleaders have the same complexions as the players!
    After working in a majority white situation, I now teach at an HCBU It is great! My work is appreciated, not underappreciated because of the color of my skin.
    The legacy of HCBUs began with my parents for me. I will instill this in my son who wants to be a doctor. My dream for him is not medical school at Harvard. It is Howard! I want him to experience formal education by professors who will not presume he is less than because of his color.

  2. I believe in HBCU’s, and believe they are still necessary. We know the drill, but these schools give students a sense of ‘just being’. To have the college experience without race. To just ‘be’.

  3. I think they are still relevant for the mere fact that there are a lot of people who find value in them. Students wouldn’t still apply and professors wouldn’t still teach at HBCU’s if they felt they were not relevant. I attended Howard for my graduate work after attending a PWI for my BS. The two schools were like night and day in terms of adminstration, but I felt the students and professors put no less effort into what took place in the classroom. I wouldn’t trade my experiences at Howard for anything…I gained a lot not just from an academic standpoint, but from a personal one as well. For Black students (in particular) there are experiences at HBCU’s that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. As was noted above, there was a sense of “being” and “belong-ness” that I experienced while at Howard that was not experienced at the PWI.

  4. You described the HBCU experience quite well.

    They need to reduce the football budgets at their big Division one schools. That would save a lot of money.

  5. @big man

    Well that goes back to that age old question posed to the NCAA of what is the role? to educate or athletics.

  6. While I think there is still a certain degree of relevance for HBCUs, I think that continuing to have a struggling school open that can’t be funded is counterproductive to the overall mission.

    I considered a few HBCUs for undergrad and decided for a variety of reasons to go to a PWI. There are occasions – like when people who attended HBCUs have these close bonds with their classmates and the black girls on my campus could barely be bothered to speak to each other – when I regret it, but at other times I don’t. I think for some students, the HBCU environment provides some great support and other intangibles. But for others, the often lower quality of the facilities and other tangibles (are there any HBCUs in the top tier?) can be a limitation. But everything isn’t for every body. I was lucky, I suppose, my PWI had several blacks and women in higher levels of administration and a great office of Multicultural Affairs that made sure to take care of all of us. I also had a few great black professors – including Russell Williams who is a 2 time Oscar winner (the only black man other than Denzel to do that, thank you).

    As for the argument about having to fight with whites later on in your career, isn’t college the time to experience that. I only know the anecdotal evidence, but I have very few friends who attended a variety of HBCUs (Howard, Hampton, Alabama State, Kentucky State, FAMU )who would instill any trust that the school is truly preparing them for a successful career.

    And part of the reason why the schools are crumbling is because they don’t have alums who are giving back. So if there are HBCUs that are public and are not able to maintain funding…merging may be the best idea.

  7. I went to Howard. I met most of my college friends there. They all felt prepared for their careers when they left. Several are accountants, two are doctors, few lawyers and engineers. I’m a journalist.

    When I dealt with white kids later, I never felt like they had been exposed to a better education than me. Now, it may have been easier for them to access certain resources, but most of the stuff I needed was available in some form.

  8. @Big Man

    Resources is such a subjective word. I mean, perhaps we didn’t have the best computers at Dillard, but we had computers that worked. I got my work done no problems. Perhaps my social life got inconvenienced because we didn’t have a 24 hour computer lab except around finals, but as far as educational opportunities they were all there. And now being here at the AUC, one of our professors told me that she was able to do 100% of her doctoral work in New Testament through the resources offered with the library here on campus.

    Now dorm life is whole ‘nother story. I’ve heard tales about Drew Hall, lol

  9. Like rikyrah, I think there is some value in having an extended amount of time to “just be”. I chose to attend a PWI for undergraduate and graduate school; but that was after growing up in a majority black city and attending black-only public schools all my life, where most of the teachers came from HBCUs and most of the students went to HBCUs. It was disconcerting and continues to be draining to always be “the only one”; but having that “just be” time before hand, I think, really has helped me personally to deal and retain my own sense of self that is not in relation to others (if that makes any sense).

  10. I went to an HBCU for undergrad. My reasons were fairly simple, not very political. College was as much about personal growth as it was education for me, probably more so. And to do that personal growth I needed to go somewhere I felt comfortable. And that happened to be FAMU. I visited other white schools, and I liked some of them, but FAMU was just right. The way some people feel right at a small school or a rural school or whatever. I don’t know that they have “relevance” in the historical political sense of the word, but they’re a viable starting ground for students and professors alike.

    Of course, I grew up in Hyde Park – which, as you know, is teeming with white people. And while my schools were mostly black, they were not all black. So I didn’t have the “culture shock” of suddenly being the only minority in the room.

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