NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University student leaders traveled to the nation’s capital after the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Education revealed that the university is owed over $2.1 billion by the State of Tennessee. The group met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and others to seek answers and support.
TSU SGA President Derrell Taylor and Vice President Chrishonda O’Quinn spoke briefly at one meeting to voice their concerns to congressional leaders about the revelation of the $2 billion-plus underfunding of the university.
“It is unfortunate that we have to fight this battle,” Taylor said. “But I am proud to stand before these legislators, activists, and key community figures to express how disheartening it is for students to realize how much more of an experience we could have had if we had been allocated the necessary funding.”
Taylor mentioned that despite the tremendous underfunding, students from across the country still choose TSU because of its culture and the quality of education it offers.
“But if we had the resources that these surrounding institutions have, who knows what our capabilities could have been. It means a lot to be in our nation’s capital fighting for our rights.”
O’Quinn echoed his sentiments, emphasizing that this matter isn’t just impacting TSU but all underfunded HBCUs as well.
“It has also shown me the importance of being well-informed on this topic, so we can relay the information back to the students and have a stronger force when advocating in the Tennessee legislature,” O’Quinn said.
“Being here and experiencing this shows how impactful it is to advance and be informed.”
Joining them on the trip were Mister Davin Latiker, Miss TSU Victoria McCrae, Aliyah Holmes, and Dwight DeBerry. The TSU group had discussions with Congressional members including Jim Clyburn, Terri Sewell, Frederica Wilson, and Steny Hoyer so far. They also had a conversation with former CNN news anchor Don Lemon.
“Attending the CBC was such an eye-opening experience,” said McCrae, the reigning Miss TSU and Memphis native.
“We sat in rooms with and gained valuable information from some of the pioneers of African American politics. The impact that I wish to accomplish is to relay the importance of voting, learning our history, and advocating for our future!”
Latiker, Mister TSU, said that despite the circumstances, it was an honor to meet people at the capital who were advocating for the university as well.
“When we met those people, they were able to provide insight and resources that we didn’t know about, and we were able to advocate for the resources that we need,” Latiker said, emphasizing that the experience was unifying.
“It was great to witness Black excellence. The love and positive energy radiated from them and seeing that made me happy to bring this information and energy back to our campus.”
The TSU student delegation was seeking an opportunity to speak directly with officials from the USDA and the Department of Education. Aliyah Holmes, the former SGA vice president, added that while the funding shortfall covers the period from 1987 to 2020, it still affects her and current TSU students today.
“Us being underfunded for $2.1 billion continues to put us at a stagnant loss. The rest of Nashville is progressing in a positive direction, while TSU has been stagnant because we don’t have the adequate amount of funds to be able to grow.”
SGA President Taylor added that making this trip is a sign of how crucial equitable funding is for TSU and that the next step is to share the information with TSU students.