I won’t blame Mississippi governor Haley Barbour directly for his recommendation that Mississippi Valley State, Alcorn State and Jackson State University merge – he may truly think it’s best that colleges merge to save money. I will blame him, however, for suggesting that Historically Black Colleges and Universities bear the brunt of the economic downturn. With a similar suggestion made in Georgia a few months ago, it shouldn’t surprise any of our brothers and sisters below the Mason-Dixon line that HBCUs are on extinction lists of government legislation. What’s surprising is how we seem to take for granted that these schools do not indeed run on love and pride alone.
As with most things, colleges are indeed in need of money for day-to-day operations. While state budgets do their fair share of keeping places of higher education up and running, alumni donations should contribute significantly to the endowments of said schools as well. As much as I hate to admit this, we don’t give enough to our alma maters. I can safely say this because I have EVERY single alumni newsletter and status report from Delaware State University since I graduated in 2007. In spite of that, R. Kelly has slept with more grown women than I have dollars invested in DSU. Am I ashamed? Absolutely, so I plan to start 2010 on the good foot by giving what I can to make sure my school doesn’t become a University of Delaware sub-campus.
I cannot judge what other HBCU alumni do, but I do know that every little bit counts. Motivation to give should come from the history, tradition and opportunities our schools have provided us with. Governments will mandate that HBCUs diversify enrollment, yet black enrollment at most Predominately White Institutions remains in the single digits or low teens percentage-wise. It’s an uphill battle, but it’s a battle HBCU alums must want to fight.