Students protest Albany State’s new mission statement
Last year, Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Albany State University (ASU) was forced to merge with Darton State College, a predominately white institution.
The merger was presented as ASU faced mounting financial issues. The school’s enrollment was declining as it dropped nearly 11 percentage points last year, and 15 academic programs were cancelled due to money and enrollment issues.
Albany State had problems, and one way to fix them was to merge the HBCU with another school.
That’s where we find Darton State College; a predominately white institution (PWI) of higher education that focuses on two-year degrees.
But no matter, this move was seen as a way to eventually save a struggling ASU from itself. Bleeding money and students, the merger gave some students and leaders hope for the future.
That was until the school’s new mission statement was released. Operating under the banner of Albany State University, students were under the impression that the school would still be considered an HBCU and have that distinction noted in the mission statement.
Darton State’s student body is more diverse as just 45 percent of its student body are black. To accommodate, the state Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia proposed, and approved, a new mission statement that does not include Albany State University as an HBCU.
The old statement notes ASU’s status as an HBCU in the first sentence, while the new one only mentions that the school has historical roots.
Upset over the missing nomenclature, more than 300 ASU students protested the altered mission statement and walked out of the school’s Honor’s Day festivities as ASU President Dr. Art Dunning prepared to speak.
He promised those remaining that while HBCU is missing from the mission statement that ASU will remain an HBCU. Dunning was careful to note that ASU isn’t the only HBCU that doesn’t explicitly note that in its mission statement as seven other HBCUs fail to do so as well.
Dr. Dunning makes good points, but students there are likely feeling that their school is being taken away from them. Many black students choose to attend HBCUs because of the rich history and cultural significance that cannot be found on the campuses of PWIs.
Some probably feel that that experience may be taken away from them if even the smallest things–like a mission statement–is changed.