A group of Florida A&M students has filed a lawsuit against the state university system claiming that the HBCU was intentionally underfunded and not allotted similar resources compared to Florida’s predominately white institutions.
The federal lawsuit filed in Tallahassee claims the state is violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by engaging “in a pattern and practice of intentional discrimination … by maintaining a segregated system of higher education.”
The lawsuit also alleged the state took longer to complete infrastructure projects at FAMU as well as allowing academic programs to be duplicated at nearby Florida State University which discourages attendance at FAMU.
“There is a vast difference between the two universities in the city of Tallahassee,” said Britney Denton, a doctoral student at FAMU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and a plaintiff in the case. “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.”
Denton told The Washington Post she and other students realized that FAMU wasn’t to blame for the differences in infrastructure enhancements and resources. They concluded the disparities were a result of intentional discrimination.
“We could see the bigger picture,” she said. “The university needs resources from the state and local government, which haven’t provided enough support.”
The students are asking the court to appoint a mediator to recommend ways to rectify the inequities and force the state of Florida to commit to complete equity in its support of all its public universities within five years.
FAMU officials said the school is not involved in the lawsuit and declined to comment on the matter.
Forbes magazine recently reported that FAMU has been shorted an estimated $1.9 billion by the state dating back to 1987.
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