California Senator Kamala Harris is reaching for the stars during her pursuit of becoming the first female president. Just last week Harris made major progress when it comes to the advancement of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
The HBCU preservation bill would provide HBCUs with much-needed funding to keep buildings just as appealing as at the predominantly white universities.
The legislation would authorize funding for grants to restore historic buildings and sites on HBCU campuses that have deteriorated over time and are at risk of being permanently lost if they are not preserved and protected. The bill was included as part of the Natural Resources Management Act.
Harris is an alumna of Howard University and knows firsthand how HBCUs have second-rate funding that causes many of the schools to look old and rundown. Facilities that are so worn down, that it makes it hard for students and faculty to perform.
Just last year Hampton University’s student body protested in frustration over living conditions in the dorms on campus. Recurrent dealings with mold in dormitories are a common theme at HBCUs across the country, especially in the older buildings on campus.
"A law that requires the government to help keep HBCU campuses up to date on renovations is almost necessary at this point. Just last week the elevator in Benjamin Banneker took me and another person for a ride that we didn't ask for," said Nicole Scott, a social work major at Florida A&M University. "I had one of the worst panic attacks I've ever had, and that has happened to plenty of people who have classes in that building.”
Benjamin Banneker is one of the older buildings on FAMU'S campus, and one that should be in line to be renovated next.
Barbara Cohen-Pippin, Government Relations director at FAMU, is optimistic that Harris’ proposal will become the law of the land.
"If the partisan bill becomes a law the growth that Historically Black Colleges and Universities could reach heights that could bring the diversity needed to be in the same respect to many PWI's in the country, once campuses are in the same league," she said.
Harris is keenly aware of the situation at many HBCUs. "I am hopeful that we can get this signed into law so that HBCUs across the country can begin these vital improvement projects as soon as possible," Sen. Harris said after introducing the bill.