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The Hilltop


COLUMN — The Trump Effect on HBCUs

By Johnathan Saffold, NewsContributing Writer
Posted 9:45 AM EST, Thurs., Nov. 17, 2016

The election of Donald Trump as the next POTUS will affect college students nationwide. However, students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are in a singular position: his plans for HBCUs, or lack thereof, will have an undeniably negative impact on the HBCU experience. If you thought it was as struggle to attend Howard now, it’s likely to get worse.

Last May, the national co-chair and policy director of Trump’s campaign, Sam Clovis, summarized for Inside Higher Ed the plans he had for college students, which included the restoration of a system in which private banks issue federal student loans — the same private banks that have been viciously exploiting the Black community for decades through predatory lending. So the next time you pass the corner store loan and fast cash center, consider them in your pool of options to pay for school in the upcoming months.

Simply put, without as much federal assistance, HBCUs will have to turn elsewhere for funding, such as creative fundraising. Howard specifically, which receives a lot of federal aid (approximately over $220 million), will need to prepare for future cuts if it is going to survive Trump’s presidency.

Trump’s war on immigration will affect students of the African diaspora attending HBCUs. Caribbean students at Howard, for example, will suffer pending Trump’s promised attack on the J-1 student visa program, which allows international students to study in the United States. To make matters worse, their families back home will struggle if the new administration is able to repeal or amend the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016, which facilitates U.S. partnership with Caribbean nations for jobs, security, and public health.

For-profit universities are expected to prosper under Trump’s presidency due to looser regulations. In fact, according to a study in Barron’s Magazine, stocks in the for-profit college system have risen up to to 14 percent since his election. Inner-city Black youth will increasingly see the legitimization of for-profit schools that churn out degrees (such as DeVry University and ITT Technical Institute) competing with HBCUs.

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A single term under Donald Trump has the potential to wipe away decades of fighting and arm-twisting that afforded us the federal support we have today. Despite what may come, the survival of HBCUs will lie in the vehement loyalty of students, the craftiness of our administrations, and the uplifting of the rich legacy for the fight for Black liberation.

On Nov. 9, Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick made the following statement: “We extend congratulations to the president-elect who, in his acceptance speech, acknowledged the need to ‘bind the wounds of division’ and pledged to be the president for all Americans.”

Although this congratulatory sentiment may be respectful to tradition, it does not represent the sentiment of the student body and fails to counteract the actions of those who will see to our oppression. In moments like this, flagship HBCUs like Howard must thoroughly evaluate the fortitude its leadership might have against destructive forces. Now that Trump and his constituents have large control of government, it is more important now than ever that we have a supportive platform to continue to institute change for our people.

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