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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CAU chapter.

#HBCULM This is for you

The PWI (Predominantly White Institution) vs HBCU (Historically Black College/University) debate is long drawn and consistently talked about. The black community specifically ponders on this issue as often times black students criticize their peers at both PWIs and HBCUs for their choice in schooling and what it contributes to their “black experience”. The root of the issue starts with people on each side of the spectrum who feel that the other is not bettering themselves to their fullest capability. But, the thing is, there is no one “black experience”. Nor is there a true black experience. A black experience is unique to each black individual and it is not degraded by attending a PWI or inflated by attending an HBCU. This thought process may sound far-fetched some but it is a sad reality in many debates on each campus and across campuses via the internet.

With that in mind #HBCULM is a huge matter focusing on once again each side of the debate. The Twitter hashtag that went viral late October. It was started by black students at the University of Louisiana Monroe a PWI in Northern Louisiana with a black student body population of 23.8%. For a PWI that is quite a large black population considered on average that quota does not reach over 10%. This fact of the matter is a part of the hashtag created insinuating that having such a large black student body equivalates to being/behaving as an HBCU.

This hashtag was supported by videos and photos of HBCU cultural traditions such as swag surfing and Divine Nine Greek Letter strolling. On top of that, a lot of the tweets were centered on how much black culture and “fun” one could have at a PWI vs an HBCU. This is a huge problem not because HBCUs own any of these aspects of a black college (as in historically/traditionally black) it is a problem because it mimics and degrades a campus culture that is undervalued and underappreciated by the external community.

See the video, here. And another, here.

HBCUs are not about only in existence to provide “fun” or “a good time”. More is done on these campuses outside of the widely publicized, appreciated, and poorly duplicated cultural aspects of these schools. HBCUs are more than a Fried Chicken Wednesday, a swag surf, a stroll-off, or a “lit” party.

HBCUs are historically and traditionally founded to aid and uplift the black community in ways many PWIs do not partake in. An HBCU experience is about unlearning a whitewashed understanding of yourself and your blackness and relearning hidden historical truths. This experience is about becoming and networking with the next great black leaders of this country and the world. HBCUs are far too often dismissed as lack proper opportunity, education, and experience by the external world because. the media focuses on glorifying all the fun that is had and never the fundamentals of what these students are taught and who they grow in to.

The #HBCULM hashtag is a prime example of sub-oppression within in the black community as almost no response to the media from HBCU students posted by ULM students was met with understanding or apology. The cross cultural ignorance is one that pushes the same ideology on HBCUs in the media. Black students at PWIs like ULM acting in such manner perpetuate and degrade the historical and educational significance of an HBCU which allows non-black members of society to do the same.

HBCUs fight hard for funding and resources to stay afloat and do not deserve to be disrespected by members of their own community. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to a PWI as a black student, but, there is everything wrong in downplaying institutions in place that are in more support of you then you are of them. Listening to the same music, eating the same food, participating in the same Greek letter organizations, will never constitute an HBCU experience. Black students at PWIs need to not partake in their own oppression and support toxicity through hashtags like #HBCULM and claim to support black campus unity and not support actual black campuses.


Miranda is a Junior Mass Media Arts Major Print Journalism Concentration at the illustrious Clark Atlanta University. Hailing from Chicago, IL, Miranda is looking to write for the politically conscious, fashion-forward, and everyone in between. Feel free to connect with her via social media as well as through LinkedIn!