Black students attending FAMU are suing the state of Florida, claiming that local politicians have purposefully denied the school equal funding.
Six plaintiffs are taking action against the higher education officials, including Chancellor Marshall Criser III. One chemistry graduate student, FayeRachel Peterson, raised questions about why she was underpaid during her time as a research assistant while her friend at Florida State University was paid much better. Peterson believes that the pay discrepancies are due to Florida A&M University not receiving an equal budget as predominantly white institutions.
“Even if I didn’t get more funding, I would hope in the future that other students can have better opportunities,” Peterson said to CBS MoneyWatch.
The lack of funding has affected not only student programs but also the facilities, which are suffering from severe maintenance issues. Student housing and buildings are run down in many areas. Last month, FAMU was forced to close one of its dorms due to pests and flooding. Unfortunately, a $111 million facilities debt from 2020 left its recreation center closed until February 2021. HBCU underfunding is sadly not a new phenomenon, dating back to the 1800s. Over the years, billions of dollars designated for historically Black colleges have been diverted to other causes.
Attorney Josh Dublin, who represents one of the students, calls the delegation of funds to predominantly white institutions “deliberate.” He and the students who filed the lawsuit hope that lawmakers will admit to this longstanding problem and work together to rectify the matter.