New HBCU bill still causing uproar, forcing leaders to call for urgent forum

New HBCU bill still causing uproar, forcing leaders to call for urgent forum

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - People are still angry over a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) senate bill that could greatly impact Albany State and two other historically black colleges and universities in Georgia.

Five senators withdrew from the controversial SB 273 that would originally change the names of Albany State, Fort Valley State, and Savannah State to a uniform name, under a new system separate from the University System of Georgia.

Senator Lester Jackson said he then moved forward and drafted SB 278 alone, that said the names of the schools would remain the same, but the schools would still operate under the new Georgia Agricultural and Mechanical University System (Georgia A & M).

We spoke with representatives from the Board of Regents who govern the University System of Georgia. They said they never supported SB 273 nor 278.

Commissioner Jon Howard called an urgent forum for Thursday night called ‘Save Historically Black Universities.’

You may remember us telling you two weeks ago about the new and controversial bill announcement.

WALB News 10′s Asia Wilson has been tracking the withdrawn version of SB 273 and the newly proposed bill 278.

Albany leaders said they are stepping in and planning Thursday’s night event in hopes of keeping HBCUs within the University System of Georgia.

From Commissioner Howard to business leaders, alumni and current students, they’re upset about both bills mentioning the pulling of three historically black colleges and universities in Georgia from the current University System of Georgia to a new system.

Thursday night’s forum will take place at the Law Enforcement Center in Albany. Senator Freddie Powell Sims will address her concerns. She withdrew from SB 273 and does not support SB 278, and only signed the previous bill thinking it was a senate resolution.

Commissioner Howard hopes alumni and current students will attend the forum to give new ideas and recommendations for the future legislation.

“A hundred some years are at stake. Albany State is over 100 years old, Fort Valley State is over 100 years old, and Savannah State is over 100 years old. We want to keep that tradition alive and we want to also maintain a black institution, and we want to fight for our rights as citizens of the United States,” said Howard.

Senator Jackson said the new bill will allow the schools to keep their names, but still be pulled from the University System of Georgia and operate under the new system to help with enrollment, funding and other issues.

Albany State President on proposed HBCU Bill

Albany State’s president is speaking out now after the new and controversial SB 278 was announced, earlier this month. It could impact the future of ASU and two other historically black colleges and universities in Georgia.

President Marion Fedrick said normally, the university is alerted when a bill is drafted that could impact the college. She said she wasn’t informed until two days before the last day of the 2019 legislative session.

Fedrick said one area of concern is the bill stating the new system, Georgia A & M, would be separate from the current University System of Georgia. The Board of Regents operates the USG.

The president said if Senator Jackson, who is the author of the bill, decides to move forward with pulling them from the university system, it would pull them from a larger pool of resources, funding and more.

“The parts that concerns me were taking us from under that university system, setting up another university system to cover just our HBCUs which would very much take us out of a larger pool, put us in a small pool where our finances would not be able to be as flexible as they are now,” said Fedrick.

Senator Sims and others will speak at a ‘Save Historically Black Universities forum’ Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Law Enforcement Center in Albany.

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