NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University student leaders said their emotions ran the gambut from disbelief, hurt, to disappointment following the announcement that the State of Tennessee underfunded their university by a reported $2.1 billion. The top five leaders believed the next best step was to seek advice from a legal heavyweight to discuss the underfunding crisis. Those top five, Derrell Taylor, student government association president, Chrishonda O’Quinn, executive vice president, Shaun Wimberly, Jr., student trustee, along with Mister and Miss TSU Davin Latiker and Victoria McCrae, called on Attorney Ben Crump.
“Attorney Ben Crump is a notable activist and is nationally recognized for his advocacy within African American communities,” said SGA President Taylor.
“It was imperative for Ben Crump to visit our campus, as this issue has escalated to a national level, and should be addressed on a larger platform.”
On October 3, Attorney Crump came to TSU, at the invitation of the student leaders, and spent the day with them to discuss the underinvestment of TSU. He and the students shared details of their meeting during a press conference.
“If the state refuses to provide the owed funds, students and alumni will have to do what is best for TSU, and these students are adamant about their next steps to address this unjustifiable inequity,” Crump, a renowned Civil Rights, said.
“Correcting this egregious funding discrepancy can ensure that our HBCUs thrive and that the students they educate reach their full potential is an urgent priority.”
O’Quinn, the SGA vice president, and a business major said Crump’s presence conveyed a message of support from the prominent attorney.
“The current students take this matter seriously and will not back down, and that we will do what it takes to make sure the underfunding issue remains national and will not die down. Attorney Ben Crump was also needed because the student leadership wanted additional support and guidance on this issue.”
Taylor, a business major as well, and Memphis native added that the Crump visit inspired him even more to work to” right this wrong.”
“Overall, Attorney Crump inspired me to stand up and speak up for what I know is right. He encouraged us all to be intentional about receiving a quality education, and he has provided me with the confidence to inspire other students as well. I feel this is incredibly unfortunate, as I have seen history repeated in a variety of forms. It is my hope that these wrongs are corrected with our state legislature, and moving forward, we don’t have to experience the feeling that our education is not as valuable as our counterparts.”
O’Quinn reflected on hearing about the initial announcement regarding the billions in underfunding and her optimism also following Crump’s visit.
“It is quite unbelievable and simply isn’t right. This has continued to happen for no other reason than the color of our skin. Any other reasoning for this occurring, in my opinion, is false. And the idea of whether we receive the 2.1 billion should not be a discussion. The numbers say enough.”
“I hope the other students feel as empowered as I did when Attorney Ben Crump spoke with student leadership.”