Home Editorials Tennessee’s Republican-led legislature obsessed with controlling TSU

Tennessee’s Republican-led legislature obsessed with controlling TSU

by William T. Robinson, Jr
William T. Robinson, Jr.

Being a proud alumnus of TSU, I am beyond irate with the obsession the super-majority Republican state legislature seems to have in trying to prove TSU’s leadership is incompetent and inadequate in running the university effectively. Is the same energy being used to expose or bring attention to problems occurring in other Tennessee state universities?

Many including TSU alumni, the Black community, and TSU supporters are questioning why TSU is being singled out. It’s as if other colleges and universities are not plagued with some of the same problems. However, these other institutions are not being brought to the forefront to be scrutinized and vilified. In fact, it is alleged by many on the outside that the legislature goes out of its way to accommodate the wishes of their ‘PWIs’ just to keep them afloat and in good standing.

It is quite apparent that the legislature is on a mission to devalue TSU leadership so they can justify controlling the university in their efforts to control TSU’s monies and dilute TSU’s historic significance and relevance as a predominately Black university. Secretly, it’s their mission to eventually make it a PWI. That is why we must be cognizant upfront of those working assiduously to discredit TSU. We must question their motives.

The truthful, obvious facts are that the intentional defunding of TSU has allowed other state PWIs to grow and strive at TSU’s expense It is no secret when you look at all the other state colleges such as MTSU, UT, MSU, and Austin Peay. They have been able to grow with funds that should have been allocated to TSU. But some people refuse to paint racism and discrimination onto the picture.

One White legislator appeared dumbfounded that there is an unprecedented surge of students attending TSU, assuming they could and should be attending one of Tennessee’s PWIs—perceived by such legislators as being better. This is unbelievable and reeks of unadulterated racism. Unfortunately, this legislator only voiced the thoughts of many Tennessee racist lawmakers who are products of PWIs.

Reliable sources are claiming that if the president of TSU, Glenda Glover, doesn’t resign, state legislators will replace the TSU Board of Trustees who support her. Then they will refrain from giving the remainder of the reparation money due TSU ($250 million, plus). Call it what you will, but it is nothing short of extortion—although some unscrupulous, immoral people may see it as politics.

Is TSU perceived as a child that is incapable of governing itself without the intervention of state-appointed and approved watchdogs relegated to the university? Really? Is this a practice at all the state colleges and universities? I think not! If not because of racism, why is TSU held to a higher standard than other state universities?

Many find it exceedingly ironic that TSU can nationally be held in high esteem with a plethora of awards and recognition but be devalued by its state’s majority-led Republican legislators. You would think the state as a whole would be ecstatic and extremely proud to boast of a university receiving unprecedented national attention as a formidable, commendable learning institution with an illuminating cultural presence. The university has received national and global praise with its Oscar-winning gospel album and its much sought-after marching band performing at national and presidential events.

Maybe unknown to many, TSU is noted as a growing research institution with stellar research programs. Many TSU supporters are finding it hard to understand why the school’s leadership under President Glenda Glover is being scrutinized to the point of demanding her resignation, especially since problems with TSU are being resolved, with the remaining problems fixable with time. Yes, TSU has endured problems in housing with an influx of new students. But this is a ‘good problem’ and fixable. But demanding her resignation or replacing the university’s Board of Trustees or threatening retaliation by withholding monies is nefarious overkill. 

TSU’s president isn’t being given the same consideration that should be warranted by any university president. When you get down to the chase, it is not about how you personally feel about the president. It is about judging her on the major reasons a university president is hired and evaluated, e.g., increasing enrollment and soliciting money.  Hands down, hasn’t she excelled in both of those areas?

But because of the TSU president’s adamant refusal to give in to the state’s plan to control the university, she is being labeled as arrogant and painted as an incompetent administrator. You will not find a college president more academically and professionally qualified. However, she is standing in the way of the state appointing a puppet president that will help in their goal of controlling TSU and culturally making it a PWI.

The Tennessee legislature is trying to paint TSU’s president as a virulent problem, but shouldn’t we be painting her as a soldier dedicated to the preservation of TSU. We, as African Americans, must be ever aware of being used as pawns by the legislature in their efforts to divide and conquer. TSU supporters, stay attuned and be ready for a pending fight to save TSU.

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