The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has been “severely underfunded” to the tune of over $330,000 over the last 30 years. The federal government is urging Governor Sanders to take action to remedy this decades-long wrongdoing.
A letter from the United States Departments of Education and Agriculture was sent to Sanders, along with fifteen of her fellow GOP governors, to explain the impact of this egregious inequity.
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff deserves equitable access to funding. The letter to Governor Sanders cites the Second Morrill Act, which aimed to rectify the discrimination that resulted from its predecessor in 1862. The First Merrill Act only funded universities that restricted admissions based on race. According to the letter Sanders received this week, the discriminatory schools established under the 1862 Act have been funded sufficiently, meeting or exceeding the one-to-one federal-to-state funding designation. Meanwhile, UAPB has repeatedly been under-resourced.
Well over a century since the Morrill Acts were passed, we are witnessing the gradual defunding of the very institution that was built for Black Arkansans. This is no accident. While Sanders has not been in power in Arkansas for the last several decades, she has been actively hoarding and accumulating more power by the day since she took office in January. She has the power to address the problem outlined in this notice from the Feds. The question is — will she?
A statement from her spokesperson for a KARK article suggests she will not be taking action at all:
“The governor is proud of the rich tradition at UAPB and will continue to support the Golden Lions,” the statement read. “A threatening, politically charged letter from the Biden administration bureaucrats won’t change her commitment to working with our partners in the legislature to continue supplying all students with high-quality education and learning opportunities.”
This statement is more of the same from the Sanders administration.
- Blame Biden- ✅!
- Project her own hyper political tendencies- ✅!
- Gaslight Arkansans who are asking for help- ✅✅!
Sanders could use the information in this letter to urge the General Assembly to right the wrongs of the last century. She could take action to show Black Arkansans that they matter to this state. She could find the humility to partner with the federal government to create a plan to properly resource our own UAPB.
We should remember that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Unfortunately for Arkansas, Governor Sanders has only put her own political interests ahead of good policy time and time again.
Arkansas is a stomping stone for Sarah Sanders’ political aspirations. We are a short stop on her road to national power. Sanders is going to leave our schools defunded, including higher education institutions intended to serve Black Arkansans. She will almost certainly do this even though there is precedent showing the state could lose in court over it.
But for Sarah Sanders, it’s about power, not principles.
Sarah Sanders cares so much about scoring political points with the national extremist base that she is willing to repeatedly take away opportunity from the most underrepresented Arkansans. For the last eight months, she has been making national political moves at the expense of Arkansans. This is no different. Her response signals inaction, and she’s taking opportunity from Black students who want to get an education at one of our only HBCUs.
We will be watching closely to see how or if Governor Sanders puts actions behind her claims that she “will continue to support the golden lions.” But we’re not holding our breath, and neither should you.