SPARKHOUSE? No, Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta Shouldn’t Merge Into A Super School

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Listen, I’m supposed to be on Spring Break right now. Am I going to the beach or traveling the world? Nah, I’m staying home doing business work for Pulse. I just finished doing my homework that’s I should’ve done last week (due next Monday). I thought I was just gonna sit back and chill for the rest of the night before starting on a busy day tomorrow. Then this Atlanta Journal Constitution article popped up in my news feed courtesy of my friend and Fort Valley State University peer Reaghan Green.

The AJC is always on top of it when it comes to their coverage. I’m actually a big fan of their articles. However, I’m trying to figure out who in the world approved this editorial piece about merging Clark Atlanta, Morehouse and Spelman together to make “Atlanta University” or, what Clark Atlanta University junior and Man of the Year court member coined as “Sparkhouse University”. Is somebody trying to send us a message or something? Are these conversations happening behind closed doors? Maybe this article on the AJC titled, Should Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta merge into one super school? was supposed to miraculously persuade us to think that this was a good idea. It didn’t.

The article was full of unsubstantiated fluff that a Albany State University and CAU alumnus should be banned from the homecoming tailgate for thinking. Seriously, Scott Craft (the guest columnist on Maureen Downey’s piece) went to Albany State for undergrad and Clark Atlanta for grad school! In the column, he argued that the best way to cut costs in the AUC is to merge the AUC schools. Meanwhile, he said a lot of things that were plain inaccurate and slap in the face to the legacies of Morehouse, Spelman and even Bennett College. Lets read his column and revisit a couple of his most interesting points.

“It’s time for the antiquated, some would even say sexist and old-fashioned structure of all male and all female collegiate learning environments to end. This is not to dismiss the great legacy and work these schools have done, but to honor them by charting a new sustainable course where the legacy of these institutions can thrive.”

Once again I say, this is a slap in the face to the legacies of Morehouse, Spelman and Bennett as they are the only all-male/female HBCU’s in the nation. What’s outdated about having safe spaces for black men & especially black women in the trying sociopolitical times that we exist in today? What’s the problem with the option of going to an an all-male or female institution instead of one that’s co-ed? Last I checked, neither of these institutions are segregated. Morehouse men and Spelman women take classes together and the AUC in general participates in Market Friday. Bennett College Belle’s have classes with males on North Carolina A&T’s campus and vice versa. Can Mr. Scott please tell me what’s outdated about this?

Maybe the Belle that enrolled at Bennett or the Spelmanite wanted to go to a school where she could stay focus without the distraction of guys and relationships outright. Maybe the Morehouse man wanted to be around fellow like minded black men that become future leaders of industry like Spike Lee and historical figures like Martin Luther King. Why can’t we allow them to have that choice? Why would we take that choice away?

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Why would we take the culture of Morehouse brothers and Spelman/Bennett sisters away because of something that’s pseudo-outdated? Mr. Scott saying that was 100% inaccurate.

“Take the University System of Georgia’s recent mergers and consolidations, for example. The USG has aggressively moved to consolidate several of its state college and universities of recent years. Over the past six years, the USG has merged or consolidated 20 of their public colleges and universities in an effort to streamline and restructure its system of schools as a cost saving measure.”

Dude, we’re doing this? As an Albany State University alumnus, you’re really gonna sit here and cite what the University System of Georgia has done with their consolidation of schools to argue for consolidating the AUC schools? Mind you, Mr. Scott conveniently left out substantial parts of the story. He mentioned the merger between his alma mater Albany State and Darton, yet neglected to mention that the mission statement from Albany State post the merger didn’t have anything about it being an HBCU in it. He knows about it. The AJC reported on it in March of 2016. Did he read it? If he didn’t, we can revisit it.

Students are upset that the new statement lacks any reference to Albany State’s status as an historically black college or university, according to a report by local news station WALB. The students wore all black and left the building at the same time, the station reported.The new mission statement, approved this week by the state’s Board of Regents, is part of a merger between Albany State and Darton State College.
The consolidation is the first in Georgia to combine a historically black college with a predominantly white institution. Regents approved the initial merger plan last year, and at the time University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby vowed to maintain Albany State’s HBCU mission.

With mergers come a clashing, and ultimate erasing, of history and culture. The clashing of Albany and Darton was one that threatened to whitewash their history. This one is a slap in the face to the notion of choice and access that, once again, comes about when speaking about consolidating HBCUs. Both Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta have individual enrollments of 2,000 + students. 2,000 student institutions usually have moderate classroom sizes and a culture of closeness and family. This is why students often pick small HBCU’s over larger PWI’s. If these students wanted to go to larger institutions they could’ve. They have that option amongst HBCUs such as Howard (which he aspires for “Sparkhouse” to be), NCAT, FAMU or Tennessee State. These institutions have enrollment of 6,000-12,000 students.  But they didn’t. They went to these schools because of the history, tradition and makeup of the campus.

We could go on and on about how asinine this merger idea is. I don’t have to do that. You can just visit HBCU Pulse’s Instagram and see the comments lambasting this. Mr. Scott is well-meaning in his assessments but needs to evaluate what a merger would mean for these institutions and their students outside of cutting costs. We don’t need one sided narratives like this, especially from our HBCU graduates. We must expect more.

 

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