Leaders from over 100 historically black colleges and universities met with President Obama this week in Washington, D.C. to discuss the future of black institutions and fight for put African-American students in the workplace. However, President James H. Ammons was not one of them.
Obama marked the 30th annual national HBCU week by inviting the schools’ leaders to the White House. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s website, this is an extension of an executive order signed by Obama on February 26 to re-establish the White House Initiative on HBCUs and the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs.
Obama also announced that he’s investing $850 million in black institutions over the next ten years.
Ammons traveled to D.C. with the intention of attending the conference but returned to Tallahassee to address undisclosed university business that required his attention.
The Famuan made repeated attempts to contact a representative from the president’s office, but no one was unavailable for comment on the exact nature of his departure at the time of publication. Many students likeRicardo Argudin, 18, have expressed concern about his absence from the conference.
“If you’re in a high class you can afford to miss a meeting with someone maybe a level up or a level down, but the President is the number one person in the nation. If you can miss a meeting with the President that gives an arrogance about your character,” said Argudin, a first-year electrical engineering student from Houston. “I would drop any appointment to meet (Obama), an opportunity that half of Americans would die for. I don’t understand why he would’ve had any reason not to be there.”
Argudin says he has common concerns that could have been better addressed through a personal meeting with the president, including troubles with financial aid and inadequate classroom equipment.
“We could’ve missed out on aid or more of a firsthand meeting,” he said.
Others recognize the level of accountability Ammons is held to on campus, but Briana Chalmers, 17, says she would have preferred to see Florida A&M’s president in the nation’s capital lobbying on students’ behalf.
“I would have like to see him represent our school. We’re supposed to be one of the top HBCUs anyways so we should have a good representation from our president. I have to admit I’m a little disappointed,” said the first-year agricultural business student from Columbia, SC.
The Famuan will keep you updated as details surrounding this story continue to develop.