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theBEnote: "A Moment to Make HBCUs Whole"
Potter: We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end the racist underfunding of higher education institutions, like HBCUs, that service historically marginalized communities
From theBEnote.com …
For generations, White students in higher education and Predominantly White Institutions (or "PWIs") have had an overwhelming advantage in terms of funding, economic security and social mobility. This advantage is based entirely on centuries of racism and inequality - it's also an advantage that, clearly, imperils the future of all marginalized and non-White students in higher education including Black, Latino, Indigenous and other students of color. Even as the share of Black and other non-White students in undergraduate and graduate institutions continues to rise, there are still enormous and unsustainable disparities in state and federal funding between PWIs and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). These discriminatory funding gaps place long-serving and valuable HBCUs, such as the 19 Land-Grant Institutions in existence since 1890, at great risk.
Instead of eliminating these funding gaps once and for all, policymakers decided to maintain an unequal status quo during intense Congressional negotiations over the Build Back Better Act.
The Biden administration's original plan, to its credit, was a desperately needed $90 billion federal funding stream for HBCUs through Build Back Better. For 107 HBCUs nationwide, that would have provided a historic $841 million per institution - at a time when the deferred maintenance backlog of HBCUs, according to a 2018 General Accounting Office report, ranges from $450,000 to $269 million.
Yet, a series of Congressional mark-ups in September dramatically slashed that funding to just $2 billion dollars - a 97 percent decrease from the initial ask. Fortunately, the Biden administration was able to step in recently, after pressure from policymakers such as HBCU Caucus co-chair Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), and secure a $3 billion deal with lawmakers … but, that’s still a 96 percent decrease from the original proposal. That’s also out of $10 billion total that was finally set aside for all “minority-serving” or BIPOC-oriented higher education institutions in these negotiations. Hence, HBCUs received 30 percent of a funding pot that’s already dramatically slashed.