Six Florida A&M University students are filing a class action lawsuit against the State of Florida.
The news of the lawsuit, centered around discriminatory underfunding of FAMU as opposed to other public universities in the state, circulated Thursday afternoon. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and alleges that the State Of Florida has systemically underfunded FAMU for years while putting more money into schools such as neighboring Florida State University. The suit also alleges that the state allocates FSU funding while allowing the predominately white Tallahassee based institution to duplicate FAMU’s academic programs.
The FAMU students filing the lawsuit are seeking mediation in efforts of finding the appropriate ways that the state of Florida can allocate money to all 40 of the state’s Public institutions.
Brittany Denton, a FAMU Doctoral student in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and one of the plaintiffs in the case said in a statement obtained by the Washington Post, “There is a vast difference between the two universities in the city of Tallahassee. If you go to the north side, you’ll see the magnificent sports facilities and amazing housing. But when you get to the south side where the HBCU is, it’s a different world because we aren’t given the same resources.”
She added, “We could see the bigger picture. The university needs resources from the state and local government, which haven’t provided enough support.”
This lawsuit comes as several public HBCUs around the nation have had legal battles with their state over systemic underfunding. Tennessee State University has battled decades of underfunding from the state and is owed between $150 Million & $544 million from the state as reported by Tennessee’s House Budget Analysis Director Peter Muller in 2021. Maryland’s HBCUs (Bowie, Morgan, Coppin, University of Maryland Eastern Shore) faced chronic underfunding from the state and, in 2006, a group of Maryland based HBCU Alumni & Supporters filed a lawsuit against the State of Maryland. The suit was settled in 2021 with Maryland State legislators pledging to allocate $577 million to all 4 HBCUs (in Fiscal Year 2023 Bowie will get $16.8 million, Coppin will get $9 million to Coppin State University, Morgan will get $24 million to Morgan State University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore $9.7 million).
Officials at FAMU tell the Washington Post and other media outlets reporting on the story that the institution is not a part of the lawsuit and provide no further comment at this time. The State University System’s Board Of Governors (named in the lawsuit) also declined comment. We will continue to update you on this story as more information comes to light.