Maybe HBCUs aren’t relevant anymore

Pucker up and kiss HBCUs in N.C. goodbye. Sound unreal? Clearly you have not been keeping up with the news.

Throughout the past two weeks talks of layoffs, budget cuts and even closure of an entire university have become the hot topic of water cooler conversations at the 17 schools/universities within the UNC-System.

Out-going president Erskine Bowles recently told members of the Board of Governors, “If we keep having cuts, cuts, cuts, we’ll have to look at eliminating schools, campuses.”

I never thought I would see the day when an entire school would be on the chopping block in order to save money.

The state is currently facing a $3.5 billion budget hole, not only that but also they are facing $1.3 billion in expiring taxes and a loss of $1.6 billion in federal stimulus money according to the News and Observer. No wonder budget cuts are seemingly necessary.

As these statements of closure are just an instance in a worst-case scenario, if a school were to be shut down, it inevitably would be a HBCU.

Out of the 17 schools within the system, the lowest performing schools are HBCUs excluding UNC-Pembroke. Here at N.C. A&T, where I am a proud student, our six-year graduation rate is 37.2 percent. That is twice as low as UNC-Chapel Hill, which graduates 75 percent.

Notice that even with two additional years, our students are not putting up great numbers with graduation rates. The two-year addition was given as a realization that students are coming to school with more family and economic responsibilities.  

What is wrong with this picture?

If tomorrow Erskine Bowles announces that he would be closing A&T what would you do? What would you argue? The pure fact that we have a distinct history is not enough to keep us open. We must prove academically that we deserve to keep our doors open to the public.

This year alone, A&T had to exceed the number of remedial Math and English courses it originally allotted.

This means that more and more students are coming to A&T without the basic concepts of Math 101 and English 101 that should have been mastered in high school.

If we are spending more time and money funding these unnecessary additions to our course loads, why not raise our admission standards?

It is time to cut the fat and weed out the weak-willed. These individuals are doing nothing more than taking up space within our institution. Too many of our students are at the club faithfully every weekend but when their transcript is pulled up all that is seen is a 1.8 GPA.

In order to compete at the level we have the ability to, we must raise ourselves to a higher standard.

We must not let HBCUs become a fad of the past, but instead the model institution in which other school desire to emulate.

HBCUs, especially A&T, should not be performing on the bottom end of any spectrum. I find it insulting that we are becoming a laughing stock amid other institutions.

The fact that our rival N.C.C.U is out graduating us also adds more fuel to my flame. Although their rate (44.4) is no contestant for a gold star, our rates should not be lower than theirs nor should it be lower than Elizabeth City S.U. (45.8).

Today more than ever we need to step up our game in the academic playing field. The myth that HBCUs are not relevant in today’s society is becoming more and more of a reality. We must prove this to be an untruth.

  • Kelcie McCrae