If I pulled out any of my old HBCU commencement speeches, I’m talking about back 10 years ago or more, you could tell the handwriting was on the wall in big capital letters. I would say, if mainstream colleges and universities that were hurting had a cold, HBCUs had the flu, the chicken pox, and a bad foot.
It was becoming clear that schools were finding it more and more difficult to compete with other four-year institutions, online universities, community colleges and even the military. I say that not to say “I told you so,” but to put a timeline on this problem and to say that survival is even more difficult now when you add the recession, cuts in funding and the change in the federal loan requirements that have denied many parents depending on Parent PLUS. At one time, it might have been more feasible to add to the curriculum, invest in technology, and give the campuses a facelift, but too many presidents and boards waited too long to act. Now, most college leadership is forced to try to run the schools and raise funds just to keep the doors open.
Grambling needs our money. We rally together for all kinds of causes but now is the time for a well-thought-out plan for raising the funds to not just keep the doors open but to make it viable again.
Members of the alumni and everyone who loves Grambling or any HBCUs should feel the urge to act immediately. One of the problems with asking for donations when things reach this stage is that people are afraid that the money will be mismanaged or not used the way we want it to be used. We have to get past that.
Grambling’s football team played on Saturday and while football is crucial to the school’s legacy, it can’t fix this massive debacle that’s bigger than football and bigger than Grambling, even bigger than the whole HBCU system.
Our efforts can start with Grambling, but they can’t end here.
How bad are we going to let things get?