On Jan. 15, college football coach Ed Reed, 44, went on Instagram Live to complain about the conditions of the Bethune-Cookman University campus and his personal office there. He claimed his office at the Historically Black University was littered with trash upon his arrival and went into an explicit-filled social media tirade about HBCUs.
“I just pulled up the work. We’re going to try to help y’all too man. Because I know a lot of HBCUs need help. I’m just here to help here first,” Reed said in the video. “I see it all too clearly. All of our HBCUs need help. And they need help because of the people who’s running it. Broken mentalities out here. I’m going to leave you with that. I gotta get in the office.”
B-CU is a private HBCU located in Daytona Beach, Florida. It has an enrollment of fewer than 4,000 students. It is one of only three private HBCUs that compete at the Division I level in college football, along with Howard University and Hampton University.
Reed, a former Baltimore Ravens National Football League star, was named the new head coach of B-CU’s football team in December 2022.
Although Reed later apologized for his words, the university decided not to keep him in its employ.
Reed’s tweet, however, sparked a debate. Should HBCUs be better maintained, or should they be given a pass due to the financial restraints many of them might have?
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Journalist and author Michael Harriott said wait a minute, HBCUs are actually better run than the average private white institution (PWI).
“Let’s get it straight: Because of a number of factors, HBCUs don’t have the resources that PWIs have. But the narrative that HBCUs are MORE mismanaged and financially strapped is not true. In fact, HBCUs are actually BETTER at handling money that [sic] white institutions,” he tweeted.
Harriot is the senior writer at TheRoot.com, where he covers the intersection of race, politics, and culture. He earned degrees in mass communications and history from Auburn University and earned a master’s degree in macroeconomics and international business from Florida State University. He is also a staff writer on Peacock’s “The Amber Ruffin Show.,” according to his website.
He is also the author of the book “The Situation in South Carolina: A Novel.” His book “Black Af History: The Un-Whitewashed Story of America” is due to be published September 2023.
Harriot also noted that HCCUs tend to be smaller.
“First of all, you have to understand who you’re talking about when discussing HBCUs. In 2020, the average US college enrollment size was 6,354 students. Only 11 historically Black institutions are that big. As you can see, you’re talking about small colleges,” he tweeted.
And that they have a smaller pool of possible donors to depend on.
“HBCUs also serve populations who are paid less than whites with the same education& experience,” he tweeted.
While Harriot stressed that many HBCUs are better run financials than PWIs, he also mentioned their economic challenges.
“Black college grads are also more likely to borrow for college & more likely to have college debt. Then there’s the fact that lenders charge HBCU students higher rates even if they have the same credit history as white borrowers,” he tweeted.
HBCU endowments combined grew by approximately $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2021, according to an analysis by The Plug of the latest financial data from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The Plus also noted that Howard University had the largest endowment with $806.4 million, followed by Spelman College ($570.8 million) and Hampton University ($379.9 million).
Michael Harriot, photo from: https://www.michaelharriot.com/