Although Florida has been catching a lot more heat recently thanks to Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, racial inequity is hardly a new problem in the sunshine state. In fact, in a lawsuit, students at Florida A&M (FAMU), say the state has been chronically underfunding the historically Black college for the last 33 years.
Last week, a Florida judge allowed the class-action lawsuit against the state to go forward, meaning FAMU students could see relief for what they describe as a clear-cut example of racial discrimination.
The lawsuit, brought by six students at the HBCU, claims that the state has been appropriating significantly more money to non-HBCU state schools. Exactly how much more money are we talking about here? Well, the lawsuit estimates that the HBCU has been underfunded to the tune of $1.3 billion over the last three decades.
And you don’t have to take the students’ word for it when it comes to the disparities across the state A 2022 Forbes report found that in 2020 the state appropriated roughly $13,000 per student for FAMU, and $15,600 per student for University of Florida students. FAMU is also significantly more reliant on state funding to operate which makes the noticeable gap in public funding per student even more of an issue.
“Throughout its history and up to the present day, Florida has purposefully engaged in a pattern and practice of racial discrimination, principally through disparate funding,” alleges the lawsuit, “that has prevented HBCUs, including FAMU, from achieving parity with their traditionally White institution (“TWI”) counterparts.”
Britney Denton, a doctoral student at FAMU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and a plaintiff in the case, says the disparities in treatment are obvious.
“There is a vast difference between the two universities in the city of Tallahassee,” Denton told the Washington Post, referencing the majority white Florida State University. “If you go to the north side, you’ll see the magnificent sports facilities and amazing housing. But when you get to the south side where the HBCU is, it’s a different world because we aren’t given the same resources.”