North Carolina’s Senate Bill 873 Removes HBCU Name Change Proposal, Sent Back to Committee

North Carolina legislators have struck a provision from a controversial bill to consider name changes for three historically black colleges in the state, and have sent the bill at large back to Senate committee for additional changes.

The News & Observer reports on the changes to proposed SB873, which in its latest drafting seeks to cut tuition at five public institutions in the state, including Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University and Winston-Salem State University.

But details in the bill’s new version suggest that subsidized support for the schools would be only a short-term option. From the News & Observer:

While the bill would let the state budget director, on the recommendation of the Board of Governors, allocate $70 million to the universities to cover the lost tuition revenue, critics worry that the money cold eventually dry up. Without full funding, these universities could have to lay off staff and faculty, or to even close, they say.

If the bill becomes law, the changes would go into effect in the fall of 2018. The bill does not include extra funding after the 2018–19 school year.

The changes surface as pressure mounts from HBCU stakeholders and black lawmakers in opposition to the bill, which was originally sold as an enrollment boosting effort which would be supported by the state legislature. From the Charlotte Post:

“We will strongly oppose the closing of any HBCUs in the University of North Carolina System or any legislation which dilutes the rich cultural experiences provided at these important institutions,” the Legislative Black Caucus said in a statement. “We support the full and sustainable funding of our HBCUs, remain skeptical, but willing to engage in this discussion.”

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