On Friday (May 5), President Donald Trump alluded that he might take away money from HBCUs by not backing a 25-year-old federal program that helps these black colleges and universities. Trump believes the program may be unconstitutional.
According to Politico when signing the recent $1.1 Trillion government spending bill, Trump decided to single out the Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program as an example funding a bill “that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender.” The bill which was created in 1992, allows the Education Department to provide federally-backed loans to historically black colleges and universities for the construction of buildings and other facilities. According to Politico, the bill provides $20 million in federal loan subsidies in the 2017 fiscal year to support as much as $282 million worth of financing to the schools.
After Trump met with some HBCU Presidents earlier this year, many advocates of HBCUs are requesting a better understanding of what’s Trump’s motive.
Derek W. Black, a law professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, called Trump’s reference to the HBCU program “rather odd.”
“If Congress is validly spending money on these programs, and there’s no court finding or litigation suggesting discrimination, the idea that the executive would unilaterally not allocate those funds would be a rather momentous position to take,” Black said.
“The administration is basically putting us on notice that they think there might be a problem, and therefore they might have to exercise judgment in these programs,” he said.
He also said it was unusual that the statement referenced only “race, ethnicity and gender” and not “religion or disability.”