April 17, 2014
Location: North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina.
In 2011, Chancellor Harold Martin announced his strategic plan for Preeminence 2020 (http://www.ncat.edu/about/forms-pdf/strategicplan-preeminence2020.pdf), which has been expressed as a goal to up graduation rates and revamp the campus of the historically Black university. In the last fifteen years or so, a struggle has arisen with students’ eligibility to graduate on time within the designated “4 Year Plan”. Graduating on time at A&T has been difficult due to a myriad of issues, majorly because of bizarre resistance from financial aid, personal issues in students’ lives which often go without being addressed, poor conditions of students’ room and board, and some amount of pushback due to administrative decisions which are not beneficial to the majority of the university’s students.
Chancellor Martin has also explicitly expressed his distaste of A&T’s history as an HBCU as well as his desire to merge A&T with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro—a predominantly white institution—in an effort to make A&T students more successful. He has stated that he wishes to, “bring the population of African American students down to [at least] 70% in order to promote diversity and higher achievement”.
A similar incident occurred around 1978—just before the 1979 rally massacre in Greensboro, North Carolina (http://thenewliberator.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/the-1979-greensboro-massacre/). A&T Chancellor Lewis C. Dowdy at the time sought to turn A&T into the East Wing Campus of UNCG. Fortunately, students were able to protest to Chancellor Dowdy as well as A&T’s Board of Trustees to stop the merge.
Most students of present times do not have any sort of feeling towards Preeminence 2020 or the possibility of A&T merging into UNCG. However, you do have students who are not at all pleased, namely those in the Department of Psychology, political science majors, and students who are majoring in African history. These students have a similar argument: if A&T is to merge with UNCG, A&T will inevitably lose its history as an HBCU, taking with it all of the history that is kept sacred here. It’s bad enough that majority of Black students have no knowledge or appreciation of our heritage and history, but we do not have access to the majority of our true history, as it has been stripped away from history books over the course of time.
If you have parents who were born any time before 1960, ask them for their books and you’ll be able to see the stark contrast to then and now.
Notes of Preeminence 2020 state on A&T’s website that one of the main goals is to, “be the institution of choice for higher achieving students”, instead of the sort who are attending A&T as of current. Also, the Preeminence 2020 idea illustrates comparisons between A&T and UNCG, distinctly implying that students at UNCG are simply better. Chancellor Martin seeks to make A&T students “better” as well—which is clearly implied by the name of his “plan”.
preeminence (n., “prē-‘e’me-nen(t)s”) - the fact of surpassing all others; superiority.
[by the year 2020, apparently]
Even if it means axing important classes from curriculums of certain majors, or doing away with some majors all together. For instance, the foreign language department has been heavily destroyed over the course of two years; family and consumer science is no longer a major; and the psychology department has seen changes to its curriculum that will actually end up barring students from acceptance into graduate programs in the very near future. Most of the majors in the College of Arts and Sciences turn out the so-called “best” and “most successful” students, yet receive little to no funding at all.
Historically, HBCU simply do not receive much funding from the government. If you look on a website as simple as Wikipedia, this is rather obvious. Ergo, A&T has no money to fund these programs the ways in which they need to be funded.
And yet, in the last two years, A&T has spent at least $20,000,000 or more on the construction of a skybox in the football stadium, and the New Academic Classroom Building. This building, which cost around $60,000,000, has three floors, is made almost entirely of glass, and houses offices for Academic Excellence, the Honors Program, and the International Office—along with a slew of classrooms that are rarely used. As of now, there is talk of doing away with the parking lot by the student union, only to expand the student union to an extreme degree. This entire project is said to cost around $90,539,619 (http://www.ncat.edu/divisions/business-and-finance/facilities/pdf/DD%20Presenation%20To%20The%20Cabunet_041520131.pdf). The total amount of funds used in rebuilding a lot of the campus in the past few years has totaled out to approximately $160,838,895 (http://www.ncat.edu/divisions/business-and-finance/facilities/pdf/bond-presentation.pdf).
And yet, we still have dorm halls that do not have working heat or air conditioning, we are being served food that is obviously unhealthy for us and most of us have no other option if we live on campus, and most of the academic departments have close to zero funding to aid in students’ success.
What’s really going on here?
Even the students know something’s not right, if these photos taken outside of the New Science Building, Bluford Library, and all over the campus grounds are anything to go by.