By Makeda White
Lincoln University’s Interim President, Richard Green, will attend the upcoming meeting with the Trump Administration, congressional members and GOP lawmakers to discuss issues challenging the stability of HBCUs.
The meeting will be held in the Library of Congress on Feb. 28, hosted by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C) and Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C) in attendance will be more than 100 HBCU leaders as well as various Republican Officials, according to the Charlotte Post.
Green was convinced to attend the event after receiving an invitation from the Thurgood Marshall Foundation.
“The Thurgood Marshall Foundation felt that it was important to have an opportunity to meet with the new republican administration” Green says, “…to understand what his plans are and what his legislative agenda is related to HBCU institutions. We think that there will be congress people there…. That will give us an indication of what kind of legislation that the congress may introduce in support of HBCUs.”
Although little information has been given regarding the format of the meeting between the nation’s HBCUs and the White House, Green is adamant that the meeting will address one of his biggest concerns, funding and scholarships for students.
“At one time the parent loans were readily [available] for students” Green says “but they made them more difficult for student to receive those a few years ago,”
In fall 2011, the Department of Education changed the requirements of the credit check criteria for the Parent PLUS Loan, which resulted in thousands of previous recipients being rejected the following year.
The effects of these changes have crippled HBCUs across the nation; dropping enrollment and retention rates. The Chronicle reported, that after the changes to the Parent PLUS loan Clark Atlanta University loan-denial skyrocketed from 25 percent to 65 percent and enrollment dwindled by 334 students. North Carolina Central University reported that 609 Parent PLUS loans were denied, Howard University 607, Florida A&M University 569.
The Huffington Post reported that the changes to the Parent PLUS loan and decrease in federal funding have cost HBCU’s more than $300 million in the last two years, which is considered one of the worst stretches in history of public support for HBCUs.
The advancement of HBCUs has been a topic of discussion for years, only gaining government support in 1980, when former President Jimmy Carter signed the White House initiative on HBCUs. According to Politico, the Trump administration’s executive order concerning HBCUs could “go beyond” the standard White House Initiative upheld by every president since Jimmy Carter.
President Green is attending the summit, “looking forward to being among the other HBCU presidents as we have the opportunity to ask the very important question of the president and of the legislative and staff members of the new administration.”
Since their inception, HBCUs have fought an uphill battle to receive funding and scholarships for their students.
BET’s new show The Quad, has gotten major scrutiny from Hampton University’s President for the false representation of HBCU’s in the media, precisely because of the affect it can have on funding and resources.
William R. Harvey, Hampton University president, wrote a three paged letter to BET CEO Debra Lee, addressing the ways in which the show fuels “false narrative about the irrelevance of HBCUs.”
Harvey slams the series for the false depiction of leadership roles, student culture and HBCU traditions. Harvey stated that this series could even be considered “a conspiracy to damage the image of HBCUs.”
In his letter, Harvey wrote:
“Devoid of any reference to academics, The Quad is about a president who is promiscuous, trustees who are unwilling to deal with a rogue band director, and a band director who condones criminal activity on the part of his drum major. The Quad will lead many to believe that HBCUs exist because of marching bands; that our presidents are unethical; that our boards are dysfunctional and have misplaced priorities; that our faculty, students and administrators are driven by sex, alcohol, marijuana, low self-esteem, parties and a preoccupation with music; that it is acceptable to disrespect women; that university policy can be set by a band director; and that there are no standards of conduct or penalties for bad behavior. This depiction seems more analogous to a disgruntled, adolescent and unrealistic point of view that some may have. It also feeds a false narrative about the irrelevance of HBCUs.”
“We cannot afford this kind of storytelling. It amounts to the type of ‘fake news’ that is prevalent today. You see, all that most people know about HBCUs is what they see on television. What I saw on BET February 1st was not accurate; rather, it was a bogus representation of very important and historic institutions.”
Green agrees with “his [Harvey’s] concerns that it [The Quad] only presented a negative image of HBCU’s.” Green hopes that BET will show more enlighten clips and that the “following episodes will show both sides of higher education offered at HBCUs.”
In an effort to understand the impact of the show, Green plans to hold a screening of the show at Lincoln University followed by a forum discussing the imagery in the show.