Assistant Vice President of Communications and Marketing at Benedict College Kymm Hunter says the extra funding designated to Historically Black Colleges could increase on-campus resources for students.
Freshman business major Gabriel Williams says he thinks the added funding will help fund books, technology and the overall experience at Benedict.
Mandana Lattimore said while she thinks the extra funding will benefit black colleges, President Donald Trump should be worried more about things on an international and national level.
By Danielle Kennedy and Collyn Taylor
Columbia is home to two historically black colleges and universities — Allen University and Benedict College.
Ernest McNealey, interim president at Allen University, and David Swinton, president of Benedict College, joined more than 80 HBCU presidents during a two-day summit in Washington. President Trump is expected to sign an executive order that would financially benefit HBCUs across the nation.
HBCU presidents have been meeting with newly elected U.S. presidents for years.
“This has been going on since, I think 1990,” said Kymm Hunter, Benedict’s assistant vice president of communications and marketing. “This is something that isn’t new in the sense of the meeting, but it’s certainly is an opportunity for us to meet with the new president and talk to him about what’s going on with HBCU’s and how the White House, the government can support HBCUs.”
In 2015, one of South Carolina’s public HBCUs, South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, declared the equivalence of bankruptcy and was threatened with closure because of financial struggles.
As of 2017, the university is still open, but South Carolina lawmakers want to make sure the university has a secure financial plan and focuses on increasing student attraction and retention.
Benedict College is a private institution and doesn’t receive direct funding from the government as public institutions do. Benedict receives Pell Grants for low-income students and funds contributed via Title III, Part B of the Higher Education Act to assist students and the college.
Title III is a competitive, discretionary grant based on merit and eligibility that financially assists HBCUs in establishing or strengthening student services, acquisitioning real estate properties and academic resources, among other things.
Overall, students at Benedict say increased funding is good for their college but question President Trump’s motives.
“My personal opinion is that it’s true,” said Gabriel Williams, business management student at Benedict. “But if he’s willing to help, we’re willing to take it.”
At Benedict, the funding could be used for “new books, laptops and things that could improve our education,” said Williams.
“I feel like there’s bigger issues in America other than HBCUs,” said Mandana Lattimore, business major at Benedict. “At the end of the day HBCUs are important but America has a lot more problems than HBCUs not being funded enough. There’s a bigger picture and I think he needs to be worried about that rather than funding us.”
Funding for HBCUs has been growing since 2009, and over $4 billion has been invested over the course of seven years, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Lattimore said HBCUs are significant for minority students seeking a small, inclusive environment.
“I needed to be around more of my culture because where I’m from there’s not a lot of African-Americans, period," she said. "So if I go to a place where I fit in I might be able to succeed a little better, do better things and be greater.”