Home Editorials State continues attack on TSU by denying them land grant funding – an alarm at TSU’s gate

State continues attack on TSU by denying them land grant funding – an alarm at TSU’s gate

by PRIDE Newsdesk

by Kenneth Caine,

Save TSU Community Coalition

It is becoming apparent to many observers that there appears to be an attack on HBCU land grant universities when compared to their White counterparts. This is true for most HBCUs, but especially TSU, which has for decades been denied land grant funding—while the other land grant university in our state has received each and every dollar of their land grant funding and much more.

It is no secret that HBCUs across the country have not been treated equally in the distribution of monies entitled to them. This has allowed White land grant institutions to prosper and flourish, while HBCU land grants have suffered financially concerning offering scholarships, maintaining infrastructure, providing more competitive academic programs, and paying instructors and staff to meet their missions—especially as applies to providing the best state of the art environment for research and education by way of infrastructure.

But these HBCUs (especially TSU) have weathered the storms by producing exceptional alumni who are making monumental differences in the world.

This prolific attack has been spearheaded by the state of Tennessee by controlling funds they kept from TSU for many years. These are funds that would have made TSU comparable to UT, especially affecting housing. The very argument the state is using to try and make TSU’s administration look incompetent in managing its business affairs can be attributed to racism and malfeasance on the state’s part. Money due to TSU throughout the years could have been used to keep TSU updated in being able to adequately house all their enrolled students—a problem that doesn’t seem to be a problem for the state’s favorite son, UT.

First, one must understand that land grant institutions were founded by the Morrill Act to provide agricultural venues, provide extensive innovative research, and to serve their respective communities. As a result, there are both individual, public and private stakeholders. Federal funding to these land grants must be matched by the states where they are located, using a student calculated formula. It has been proven that state legislatures have deprived their HBCUs of millions (even billions) of dollars, while overly funding their White land grant universities. These funding disparities have aided in the proliferation of big state of the art White universities with all the amenities to attract record numbers of students, while HBCUs are functioning on shoestring budgets—at times, striving to stay afloat and exist.

Land grant universities (especially TSU) should be applauded for making gold bricks from straw, but state legislatures seem persistent in their manipulation in paying these universities the money they were cheated out of. Some of these state legislatures (as in the case of TSU) have the audacity to blame the universities of being at fault when they are actually the victims.

One must remember that HBCUs came about because Whites didn’t want or allow Blacks into their colleges and universities. Now some people are arguing that HBCUs are irrelevant and unable to manage themselves. Give us break! The only reason HBCUs fall short of equaling some PWIs in size and amenities is because of gross racism in applying funds. It is apparent that many state legislatures favor their PWIs (from which most of the White legislators are alumni). Such is the case with Tennessee’s White Republican-controlled legislature—and it is obvious what they think of TSU.

Tennessee State University (originally Tennessee A&I [Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State]) was granted the status of a land grant university. It has come to the surface that the state of Tennessee owes the university hundreds of millions of dollars in missing and held funds (reparations). Some speculate the state of Tennessee intentionally built up the University of Tennessee (a White land grant university) depriving TSU of land grant funding it was supposed to match. 

Let’s make it clear that we have state legislators partial to UT Knoxville and would like to see the state take over TSU. It is no secret that these legislators have done everything possible to present TSU in a negative light by trying to highlight anything that makes TSU look bad—especially as it applies to its housing problems, infrastructure, or lack of adequate student funding, at times which can be attributed to inadequate funding from the state.

While monies are due to TSU, it is apparent that state legislators want to control every aspect of how the monies are supposed to be spent. Keep in mind, this is the same legislature that deprived TSU of funding that could have possibly made TSU comparable to UT Knoxville.

The latest attack on TSU is being circumvented by having TSU explain its largest enrollment, alleging recruiting and student funding improprieties. The most discriminatory part of this is that UT had record enrollment also, but nothing was said or done! I repeat, UT had a record enrollment of first-year students this year also. Not one time was UT called to a Senate Hearing, nor did they receive state-wide persecution for their enrollment, or were they accused of admitting too many students. But TSU was! This is outright discrimination on its face.

This is just a ploy to try to make TSU look incompetent in handling its business affairs, so the state can control the land grant funds owed to TSU.  Honestly, does it make sense that the very people that cheated TSU out of monies should control the monies when it has to be repaid? The state has even issued ultimatums toward TSU to help assure their takeover.

The students at TSU must understand that when TSU is allotted a land grant with no strings, the students win. TSU will be in a better position to eradicate the financial concerns many of the students may now entertain in regard to their future. 

TSU alumni, the Black community, and TSU stakeholders must be willing to call out the key state legislators in Tennessee who are so adamant about portraying TSU’s administration as incompetent and inadequate in managing its academic and fiscal responsibilities. Pressure must be applied, so the state will do the right thing when it comes to TSU. Beware the snakes are surfacing, and we must be united in calling them out to protect our beloved TSU.

Let’s show the state how much we love our TSU.  We are asking TSU students, the Black community, TSU stakeholders, and TSU alumni to put on their boxing gloves. We are not going down without a fight. We must expose what we see as blatant improprieties and racism on the part of the state. Our mantra is ‘Justice will prevail.’

Related Posts

Leave a Comment