‘Struggles and success’ on HBCU campuses

In the past month, three Historically Black Colleges and Universities faced challenges such as a student protest that lead to change, slight increase of enrollment numbers and greek letter organization violence.

At Howard University, students won a protest against officials to extend the hours of registration.

“The financial aid office was opened until 5 p.m., however now we’re closing at 7 p.m. on weekdays,” said Kerry’ Ann Hamilton, spokeswoman for Howard.

Hamilton said the financial aid office was also open last Saturday to help students who have not received their money yet.

“We’re going to have it open because purge deadline is September 25 and students were concerned about financial aid,” Hamilton said.

The protest also allowed the university to begin a recycling program because students had a concern about material waste. The protestors called for better recycling of paper and aluminum cans.

Jasmia Fowler, 21, a fourth-year speech pathology student from Chicago, said she was excited to participate in this protest.

“I am extremely proud to be at Howard today because of how we pulled together to be a cohesive unit, to finally stand up and fight for things we saw wrong with the university,” Fowler said.

Howard’s overwhelming student success is a stark contrast to the declining enrollment at Morris Brown College.

Stanley Pritchett, acting-president of Morris Brown College, said there are 105 students currently attending. The college lost its accreditation in 2002, with about 2,500 students enrolled.

According to the U.S. Department of Education Web site, any colleges or universities that are not accredited by nationally recognized accrediting agencies, such as the Southern

Association of Colleges and Schools, will not receive financial aid.

Throughout the tough times the university president said they are not on the brink of closing and will stay positive.

“Last year’s population of nearly 160 was the largest class enrollment since the loss of accreditation,” Pritchett said. “However, we anticipate next year’s number to approach 200.”

University officials are trying to recruit students by attending high school college fairs, recruiting online and reaching out to alumni for help.

“Students who have come since the lost of accreditation spread the word that Morris Brown College is still a place of opportunity,” Pritchett said. “Our graduates continue to go on to graduate school.”

According to the Pritchett, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, alumni and other financial supporters fund the university.

“My thoughts about the college are struggle and success,” Pritchett said. “All of the support we have is still not enough to position the college where the college needs to go, but I do believe we are making considerable progress.”

As Morris Brown attempts to combat their problems, Bethune-Cookman University is also sorting out issues.

 B-CU recently had uproar on its campus in September.

 According to the online edition of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Gregory Tillman who is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc  was pistol-whipped by 20-year-old Leonard Addison Jr. of Miami.

A police report stated Addison was sitting on Phi Beta Sigma’s fraternity bench on campus and was asked to leave.

After Addison refused to move, Tillman began arguing with him. Shortly after, Addison hit Tillman with his gun and Tillman was taken to a hospital.

 In a statement to the media, Elizabeth Poston, B-CU assistant to the president, said the incident does not represent the school.

 “The incident that occurs does not reflect the values of Bethune-Cookman University, its students or Pan-Hellenic organizations,” Poston said. “The students involved in the incident have been expelled. Criminal behavior and the possession of weapons on campus will not be tolerated at Bethune-Cookman University. “

Shanley McCray, 20, a public relations student from Fort Lauderdale, said the commotion frightened her.

“It makes me scared to even sit on a fraternity bench,” said McCray, who attends B-CU.

“People send their students to college to get educated not pistol-whipped.”