Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dear Haley, Kiss Ass

This week Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi, has proposed merging several of the state-funded universities as an answer to the growing budget constraints. He wants to merge Mississippi University for Women with the much larger Mississippi State University. He also proposed that Alcorn State University and Mississippi Valley State University be merged with Jackson State University.

Really, Haley? You just happen to want to shrink the number of public HBCUs in Mississippi from 3 to 1? And it just so happens to be the one school that has gone back and forth for several years about becoming "The University of Mississippi at Jackson"? Interesting...

Needless to say, students, alumni and even faculty are up in arms, and as an alumna of Jackson State University, I am too. Of course I have nothing against the other institutions (other than the rivalries during football season) but I could not think of a worse thing (other than completely shutting down) for either of these schools. Each institution was set up with their specific purpose. Each has their own unique history and culture that they identify with. Everyone who attended these universities has a special connection with that school. Why should that be taken away from students and would-be students of ASU and MVSU?

On top of that, the proposed merger just doesn't make good sense to me. If schools need to be consolidated, why not try to find a more reasonable solution? What I would suggest is dividing the state up into either the northern & southern halves or north, central and southern regions. Then, have a set standard that the separate colleges at each university must meet (possibly number of students that graduate from the program?). Leave the top two or three of each program in each region open.

For example, while JSU's College of Business turns out hundreds of graduates, one of the liberal arts programs may only have a handful of graduates. In comparison, USM may have a great English department but their science department may not be stellar. So in the southern half, there may be one less liberal arts and one less science program due to their discontinuation (temporarily, preferably) at these particular schools. (BTW, this is just an example. I can't speak for the performance of any other university or other programs at Jackson State. The College of Business is, however, on point.)

Forgive me if I didn't make my example clear. It's early and I haven't had my coffee.

My point is there has to be some alternative to completely shutting down these universities. Although Haley proposes that the schools will remain open as part of JSU, their unique heritage would be lost.

I do not believe this will pass. As I stated, many people are upset over this. We have determined that our schools will not go down without a fight. Numerous FB groups have formed, rallies are being planned/held, and a petition has just recently been created. Although this is not the first time an idea like this has been presented to the legislature, never have we been in a position like this where everything is being considered. If there was ever a time to put up or shut up, it's now.

Jackson fair, Jackson dear
Thee I love, My dear old college home
Thee I love wherever I may roam
Jackson fair, Jackson dear...

Clarion Ledger article on the proposed merger (the comments about us "crying" and not needing HBCUs burned me up! There would be rioting if he even hinted at merging Ole Miss and Miss State!)

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