What impact could affirmative action ruling have on S.C.’s 8 HBCUs?

Watch WIS News 10 at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Published: Jun. 30, 2023 at 6:46 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Thursday’s landmark ruling from the US Supreme Court to strike down affirmative action will significantly shake up the admissions processes for colleges and universities nationwide.

Some believe it could have further impacts on historically Black colleges and universities, HBCUs, specifically.

Barely 24 hours out from the affirmative action ruling coming down, it’s still too soon to know precisely how the decision could impact South Carolina’s eight HBCUs.

“There are just so many things that could potentially come out of this, so we’re going to see how it all pans out, but as a result of this ruling, it’s definitely going to make a lot of changes and put a lot of demand on all of us,” Dr. Ebony Green, a constitutional law professor at Benedict College in Columbia, said.

Green said there are concerns this ruling could pave the way for future questions and legal challenges related to public funding at HBCUs.

“Not just for programs but also for employment,” she said. “It’s just kind of like a domino effect, so we’re really concerned as to how all this is going to pan out.”

Green also expects this ruling could lead to increased interest and enrollment at HBCUs, which would then put a greater demand on their resources.

“Just like historically, when these things have come up, we will rise,” she said. “We will continue to educate, we will continue to employ and help our students be the best adults that they can be.”

Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D – Orangeburg, is a top advocate for HBCUs at the State House, with two of them in her district: South Carolina State University and Claflin University.

She said this ruling further emphasizes the need for the state to support and fund its HBCUs.

“HBCUs have already been underfunded. They have been under-resourced, and so the thought of that being exacerbated by this decision is one that gives me great pause,” Cobb-Hunter said, adding she does not believe this affirmative action ruling will directly impact HBCU funding.

Cobb-Hunter, the longest-serving member currently in the state’s House of Representatives, also sits on the House’s budget-writing Ways and Means Committee.

She pointed out both of South Carolina’s two public HBCUs, South Carolina State and Denmark Technical College, received significantly less money in the upcoming state budget than they had requested in a year with a multi-billion-dollar surplus.

“In light of this affirmative action decision, we ought to commit ourselves to doing better in resourcing these institutions, especially our HBCUs, at a level that they can accommodate the influx of students who will be coming in,” she said.

Of course, the Supreme Court ruling will affect other colleges and universities in South Carolina too.

Green noted in states that had already prohibited using affirmative action in college admissions, enrollment for Black and Latino students dropped significantly after that block went into place.

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article's headline.

Stay up to date with WIS News 10. Get the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and Stream us on Roku, YouTube, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV.