As of late both of the notable HU’s (Howard University and Hampton University) have been receiving media coverage on issues impacting their current and prospective students. Amongst these issues, the most spoken on at both universities are lack of funding which ultimately affects the overall infrastructure of the school, another prominent issue at both universities to address and combat sexual assault. (WKTR News) Hampton recently went viral on Twitter through the hashtag #HUTownHall which exposed moldy food, as well as mold in their showers. Howard’s most newsworthy headlines have revolved around weather damage that resulted in their academic buildings flooding. This led to undergraduate classes getting pushed back after winter break because of inadequate learning conditions. (The Washington Post) These issues are not often reported due to the universities fear of bad press tainting their image. However, these issues are essential to take note of in order to find real solutions to aid HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges or Universities) in need. HBCUs already face criticism as far as their purpose to modern society. Critical issues like infrastructure and assault are preventable and should not serve as the downfall of impactful and influential institutions.
Upon speaking to students from both universities, they have expressed similar issues that they are facing in their institutions. The students expressed issues with living conditions and how disorganized administration/financial aid is. One of the Howard students we spoke to brought up the issue regarding the school shooter scandal and how the lack of information given to the students. As previously mentioned, in efforts to save money, Howard decided to cut off the lights and the heat in some buildings which led to the pipes bursting and flooding. Due to this event, school started later than intended and certain classes are now being held in dorm rooms. One of our students from Howard also expressed that she did not appreciate the school bringing James Comey to speak to the students against their wishes, due to the fact that Comey had controversial beliefs to relay about movements like Black Lives Matter at an HBCU. Hampton students express issues with professors not showing up, moldy facilities, as well as their president, being in office for forty years and not taking issues like sexual assault seriously. Students also cannot protest without getting approval from their board. Their school is also still run on old school perspectives. The students had some solutions to these issues. These solutions included showing the students where their tuition is going and having consequences for the disorganization in administration. Students also feel that Alum should be giving back to the schools as both Howard and Hampton have created plenty of notable, influential people in society that have the means to be an aid to their institutions. There also needs to be younger leadership because the world is always changing and that needs to be reflected in the staff.
An article released last month in the Atlanta Journal focused on HBCUs being a dying breed. With statistics focused on graduation rates and retention rates, the article stated no college can last long with numbers hovering under 60%, let alone HBCU’s. Six HBCU’s have closed down since 1988 and many college finance experts believe a dozen struggling HBCU’s will close down in the next 20 years. The underlying issues like funding and lack of alumni support will be the root cause of more HBCU’s to close down like the ones before them. Keeping in mind specific issues brought up by both the Hampton and Howard students we spoke to it is no surprise that HBCU’s are losing support from who they need it from the most, their students. However, a majority of the students we spoke to want their HBCU as well as others to overcome their issue and thrive as a whole. We believe students deserve the option of attending a PWI or HBCU. The HBCU experience is unique and so culturally centered that is something black students should have the opportunity to navigate through. Eliminating that option would destroy the legacy and historical significance they provide to their students. Without an increase of funding and the reconstruction of dated buildings and administrations, HBCUs are bound to live up to being “dying breed”.