Politics

Gov. Bobby Jindal Proposes Closing Southern University

Thu., May. 12, 2011 9:50 PM EST
by Torrance Stephens

Across America, many historically black colleges and universities are having a rough time making it. The most recent added to this list is the historic Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. Still trying to recover from the impact of Hurricane Katrina, the campus is plagued with water-damaged and gutted buildings.

Now the university has to deal with a proposal by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal to consolidate the school with the nearby, mostly white University of New Orleans. Jindal’s proposal reflects an attitude that has manifested in all the 20 or so states that have public, four-year historically black colleges and universities. On the record, Gov. Jindal stated, “It makes no sense to have colleges blocks apart, neither one of them with graduation rates we can accept.”

Jindal insists his proposal is about improving education, not saving money although Louisiana faces a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. However, in order to pass, he must obtain two-thirds of the vote in the House and the Senate. As anticipated, he is receiving vehement opposition from the Democratic Party and black lawmakers.

Other states have attempted similar changes. A 2009 proposal in Georgia was submitted to merge two mostly black colleges with mostly white institutions but it did not pass. Last year, a proposal by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour would have merged Alcorn State, Jackson State and Mississippi Valley state but it also failed.

Students have filed a complaint with the Department of Justice over the merger, which was adopted in March by Louisiana’s Board of Regents, designed to create a “University of Greater New Orleans.

Southern University opened its doors on March 7, 1881. Notable alumni include professional athletes such as Mel Blount and Lou Brock as well as “American Idol” judge and producer Randy Jackson, Branford Marsalis, and Lieutenant General Russel L. Honore, who commanded the U.S. military’s support of recovery efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. –torrance t. stephens, ph.d.

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  • http://twitter.com/badtux99 Bad Tux

     Um, this is about Southern University New Orleans, not Southern University Baton Rouge, which Bobby Jindal’s proposal doesn’t address at all. SUNO was founded in 1954 at the same time as the University of New Orleans so that white kids going to UNO wouldn’t have to see black faces, it was the last university founded in Louisiana under “Separate but Equal” and was founded solely in hopes of heading off a NAACP lawsuit over excluding blacks from UNO. There is no history or tradition associated with SUNO and it has never had enough students or resources to have the sort of broad course offerings and educational excellence associated with UNO, it owes its entire existence to a racist Louisiana legislature that created it as the last gasp of a dying segregationist order. Good riddance, in my opinion.

  • Peggy3girls

    I read where Gov. Jindal stated that his proposal is about improving education & not about saving money. Well I don’t claim to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I don’t see how closing an “INSTITUTION OF LEARNING” will improve upon the challenges we face in education. I strongly believe that putting efforts toward finding suitable educators will be of “GREAT HELP” toward improving education.