Op-Ed: Senate HBCU bill is a wolf in sheep's clothing
A bill recently introduced in the NC Senate could deal a fatal blow to many of North Carolina's historically black colleges and universities. The bill forces several public HBCUs in NC to lower tuition and proposes examining name changes for those schools. It's clear this goal here is to weaken and ultimately destroy these historically black colleges.
North Carolina Senate Bill 873, named the “Access to Affordable College Education Act,” is a wolf in sheep’s clothing designed to bankrupt five of the state’s universities. By reducing tuition to Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State, UNC Pembroke, Winston-Salem State and Western Carolina to $500 per semester, it renders them unsustainable as four-year institutions and foretells their transformation into community colleges.
But Bill 873 also has another purpose, which is to rename four of the five campuses. That goal is presumptive, ignorant, and, frankly, racist. The bill calls for a study of “the impact of each university’s name on the institution’s academic strength, enrollment, and diversity. The Board of Governors may make recommendations on any potential changes to the legislature.”
Three of the campuses named in the bill are Historically Black Universities; one, Pembroke, served primarily Native Americans and African Americans. Two other HBUs, North Carolina Central and A&T, have been spared, and Western Carolina, a historically white university, is thrown in to disguise the bill’s racist intentions. The state’s HBUs began as Jim Crow schools, funded by the state to train black citizens. They educated women alongside men and, despite the shame of segregation, became the best state-funded system of black education in the nation.