Six students attending Florida A&M University in Tallahassee filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of Florida and the board of governors of the State University System with allegations of decades of discriminatory underfunding. According to the Washington Post, the lawsuit claims that the state’s reluctance to provide increased funding to FAMU violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and also the previous precedent found in cases such as U.S. v. Fordice, that noted state of Mississippi had failed to dismantle its segregated system of higher education.
From The Washington Post:
“There is a vast difference between the two universities in the city of Tallahassee,” said Britney Denton, a doctoral student at FAMU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and a plaintiff in the case. “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.”
Contained in the Forbes investigation, “How America Cheated Its Black Colleges,” the statistics showed that FAMU’s shortfall amounted to $1.9 billion, the second-largest of any historically Black land-grant institution. FAMU had to temporarily close at least one dormitory due to flood damage and pest issues, as the complaint notes. An attorney and principal at Grant & Eisenhofer, Barbara Hart, representing the students, spoke about FAMU’s issues with room shortages, incomplete staff at the athletic level, and pest infestations.
From the Tallahassee Democrat:
“It’s something that’s been worked on for quite a while, but then there have also been all these recent things that have gone on with the housing issues and the athletic department issues, so it all came to a head.”
“The lack of fair funding over time just compounds the problem,” Hart added during a phone call with the Democrat Thursday. “We did our research, it all came together, the clients felt very strongly about it, and we’re moving forward.”
Suppose you look at the facilities at Florida A&M in comparison to the University of Florida and Florida State University. In that case, there’s a stark contrast in how things at predominately white students’ colleges look. FAMU was ranked as the top HBCU for the fourth straight year. Now the school needs the funding to match its accolades.