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Is Savannah State A True HBCU?

Although Savannah State University has prided itself to be a HBCU, and most of its occupants are African American descents, most people still question if the University is authentically a true HBCU. When people think of a HBCU they imagine diversity, empowerment, a chance to continue a legacy, and a first rate education. Well, Savannah State University seems to be suffering from these aspects. Most of the complaints are about financial aid not being reasonable, how the school lacks spirit, and how the President, Dr. Dozier, is not doing her job and the classes aren’t challenging enough.

Savannah State University is the first public black institution in the state of Georgia. Originally named Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth, which would later change to Savannah State University. The school was founded by the late president, Richard R. Wright. The illustrious school was built to empower and uplift African Americans as they stride to get an education. However, the school is not living up to its promise. Having spoken with some of the student, faculty, and alumni, they all suggested the school could use some improvement.

Chelsea Henry a current sophomore who says, “In my opinion, Savannah State is like high school all over again. The students are always in drama, the food is never good, and the classes are way too easy. I have friends who go to schools like Hampton, Clark Atlanta, and even FAMU, and their school is more lit than ours”. Some students are not happy with the school, some are even questioning why they attended. However, alumni’s rebuttal how students aspect for all HBCUs schools to be party schools. Students come to a HBCU looking for fun, and as soon as they don’t receive it they give up. Alumni Bridget Johnson says, “The schools not the problem it’s the students”.

According to Bridget Johnson who is an alumni of the school says, “My time at Savannah State was a positive experience, it opened a lot of doors for students who were not able to attend to big universities. SSU gave students endless opportunities to be successful in their careers. Attending this is a small university, I got the full experience. I feel as a student what a person puts in is what they will get out. Although Savannah is not a big university and may lack finances, this does not give students the right to bash the schools name.” She goes on to say, “If students have such negative feed on the school why didn’t’t they attend a BIGGER and BETTER HBCU?”

However, it was said some of the faculty members are also bad mouthing the school as well. Current student Matthew Smith who is a junior says, he blames the faculty and staff for not taking the initiative to further their own education on Savannah State. “I had a professor who does not care about the school, its students or their education. All they want is a paycheck. Yet, I can’t put all the blame on faculty, it’s the students fault as well. If students would actually take the time to research the school’s history, they might actually enjoy the school. But that’s the generation we live in”. Mr. Smith also added how socially Savannah is listed at the bottom of

HBCUs, it is looked at as a low standard school. He believes the reason students are leaving to attend other HBCU’s is because the stigma being put out about the school. If more people were aware of the history and how the school was built to empower and educate young African Americans.”

Although Savannah State is considered one of the smaller HBCUs it is felt with rich history, knowledgeable professors who are willing to push students and it has the potential to be prideful. The school requires students to take Freshman Year Experience (FYE) course. The class teaches students not only the material in the class, but as well the school’s history. The class is required for new students to take to get familiar with the school. Assignments are given to students such as, research on Richard R. Wright, finding specific organizations on campus to do different community service and also a scavenger hunt to get to know the school better. This is a unique aspect the school has for its incoming students.

Professor of African American Studies, Jamal Toure is an alumni of Savannah State University. In his class Jamal makes sure his students are aware of the leaders and “My class is learning all Savannah State. I have my class redo the history of the school. I have the students include the figures and the impacts that have been made across the country. The main problem with people not attending or leaving the Savannah is because they don’t know the significance of the school.” Toure has visited plenty of HBCUs, and when he talks to the students about Savannah State, the students begin to realize the school has a lot to offer. Toure explained how Savannah States students shouldn’t’t look up to bigger HBCUs like Spelman, Morehouse, Hampton, or Howard as top schools. If students know their history, they’ll begin to understand and appreciate the school more. “Savannah State is what a student makes it. You see I believe Savannah State is true HBCU, our school has been a central force within Georgia”, Toure says.

Savannah State University has proven itself to be a true HBCU. The university may not be a party school, it is not a top pick, and it is not Georgia’s most well-funded HBCU. However the school has teachers who are willing to help educate this new generation of Tigers, it also has school pride. The school has SOL’s, Tiger Ambassadors, and mentors who give tours of the campus and explains what each building on campus does. The schools institution from the first president and professors at Savannah State University seems to have impacted history in the country without question the schools late president, Richard R Wright has created powerful leaders. Some students, alumni, and teachers believe the school still lives up to it promise, they believe if more students and teachers would become more involved with the school, people would start to pay attention and give the school recognition.

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