Despite Some Setbacks, HBCUs Remain a Much-Needed Option for Black Students

As Spelman College celebrates its 136th anniversary today, its legacy reminds us of the role historically Black colleges and universities play in the advancement of African-Americans and why we must preserve their significance in our communities.

Ranked No. 1 among HBCUs by U.S. News & World Report, notable Spelman alumnae include Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker, playwright Pearl Cleage and former Dean of Harvard College Evelynn Hammond. The college ranks in the top 10 of women’s colleges across the country and is the second-largest producer of African-American college graduates who attend medical school.

Though Spelman stands out amongst its peers, the HBCU system has played an integral role in the upward mobility of Black Americans since its establishment following the Civil War. When Jim Crow laws attempted to keep us stuck in the past, they provided safety and opportunity, and what began as a way to keep us “separate but equal” turned into a support system that has since graduated some of our most esteemed leaders. A 2015 Gallup poll also showed that Black graduates of HBCUs fare better than those who went to non-HBCUs across a multitude of categories include financial well-being, purpose and even physical well-being. According to the poll, HBCU graduates felt more supported by their professors and had better opportunities for mentorship. Only 25 percent of Black graduates from other institutions reported that their professors cared about them as people, compared to 58 percent of graduates from HBCUs.

Despite these successes, HBCUs have struggled in recent times. Desegregation, rising incomes and more opportunities for financial aid have provided Black students with more choices, and HBCUs have seen their enrollment numbers stay relatively flat over the past 25 years with small increases in enrollment. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) figures show that in fall 2015, the combined total enrollment of all HBCUs was 293,000, compared with 234,000 in 1980. By comparison, enrollment at other universities and colleges nearly doubled during that same time.

Earlier this year, HBCU leaders went to the White House to meet with the Trump administration in hopes of securing additional funding in future years. At first encouraged by his executive order transferring oversight of a federal HBCU initiative from the Department of Education to the White House, they got a reality check not long afterward when the administration released its “America First” budget proposal. The budget cut federal education spending by 13.5 percent, and though it maintained funding for minority institutions and HBCUs at around $492 million, it eliminated the discretionary funding provided by the previous administration. This poses a problem for the 70 percent of HBCU students who rely on federal grants and work-study programs to finance their education.

Though Spelman stands out amongst its peers, the HBCU system has played an integral role in the upward mobility of Black Americans since its establishment following the Civil War. When Jim Crow laws attempted to keep us stuck in the past, they provided safety and opportunity, and what began as a way to keep us “separate but equal” turned into a support system that has since graduated some of our most esteemed leaders. A 2015 Gallup poll also showed that Black graduates of HBCUs fare better than those who went to non-HBCUs across a multitude of categories include financial well-being, purpose and even physical well-being. According to the poll, HBCU graduates felt more supported by their professors and had better opportunities for mentorship. Only 25 percent of Black graduates from other institutions reported that their professors cared about them as people, compared to 58 percent of graduates from HBCUs.

Despite these successes, HBCUs have struggled in recent times. Desegregation, rising incomes and more opportunities for financial aid have provided Black students with more choices, and HBCUs have seen their enrollment numbers stay relatively flat over the past 25 years with small increases in enrollment. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) figures show that in fall 2015, the combined total enrollment of all HBCUs was 293,000, compared with 234,000 in 1980. By comparison, enrollment at other universities and colleges nearly doubled during that same time.

Earlier this year, HBCU leaders went to the White House to meet with the Trump administration in hopes of securing additional funding in future years. At first encouraged by his executive order transferring oversight of a federal HBCU initiative from the Department of Education to the White House, they got a reality check not long afterward when the administration released its “America First” budget proposal. The budget cut federal education spending by 13.5 percent, and though it maintained funding for minority institutions and HBCUs at around $492 million, it eliminated the discretionary funding provided by the previous administration. This poses a problem for the 70 percent of HBCU students who rely on federal grants and work-study programs to finance their education.

By Danielle Dorsey/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s