Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed merger of a historically Black university into a mainstream university has come under heavy criticism.
Jindal has proposed a merger between the historically Black Southern University of New Orleans and the University of New Orleans. Currently, Southern University of New Orleans is in the Southern University System, a large historically Black public college system, while the University of New Orleans is part of the Louisiana State University System.
In a rally held at Southern University over the proposed merger, Darryl Brown, an English professor at the school, said the school would not let the merger happen without a fight.
“If this merger goes through, this will be the end of SUNO,” Brown said according to The New Orleans Times-Picayune. “We’re not going to let that happen. We are here to fight.”
“We stand in vision for one goal …to retain SUNO forever,” he added.
Meanwhile, University of New Orleans students and faculty assume that the school will survive and simply absorb Southern University. In a Jan. 27 meeting at the school, State Rep. Jim Tucker (R-Algiers), a UNO alum, said the move would be positive and would allow the University of New Orleans to move out of the shadow of its big brother, Louisiana State University.
“If we can get out of the LSU System, the sky will be the limit as far as going forward is concerned,” Tucker told the Times-Picayune. “LSU has held UNO back way too long.”
“A benefit of getting away from LSU is a greater opportunity to expand an institution beyond where we were before ,” he added.
However, a fight is brewing. Lezli Baskerville, president and CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education said that the Southern University of New Orleans plays an important part in the Southern University System, America’s only state HBCU system. The merger of the schools might hinder the success of the other HBCUs in the state.
“Now is not the time to destroy, but rather to strengthen the Southern University System,” Baskerville said in a statement. “Governor Jindal should heed the wise counsel of his Higher Education Review Commission and support the strengthening of SUNO and the Southern University System.”