Florida A&M students sue the state for alleged bias funding gap

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Six students from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University have filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Florida.

Students sue the state AllegedRacial discrimination, whereby political leaders withheld equal funding for the historically Black University and the University of Florida, which is a predominantly white institution.

“Throughout its history and up to the present day, Florida has purposefully engaged in a pattern and practice of racial discrimination, principally through disparate funding, that has prevented HBCUs, including FAMU, from achieving parity with their traditionally White institution counterparts,”According to the lawsuit. 

According to a report, FAMU was denied funding in excess of $1.3 billion between 1987 and 2020.Press release from Grant & Eisenhofer, the law firm representing the students.

Barbara Hart, an attorney and principal at Grant & Eisenhofer, Telled the Tallahassee Democrat that FAMU’s problems with room shortages prior to the beginning of the fall semester, bug infestations, and the athletics department’s understaffed personnel, all reflect the university’s underfunding situation.

“Our school has always made a little go a long way, but we shouldn’t have to,” said Britney Denton, who is a listed plaintiff in the lawsuit and first-year doctoral student at FAMU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Studies.

“There are bright and determined people here who deserve the same level of support and quality of resources as FSU next door or any other state school in Florida,” she continued. “We’re proud to be here, and we want Florida to be proud to support us, and other HBCUs, equally.”

FayeRachel Peterson, a first-year graduate student in chemistry, TelledCBS News reports that her friend at Florida State University does not have to worry about working while she pursues a master’s. However, she claims that she was poorly paid as a research assistant at FAMU in the beginning of last month. 

Peterson said that this realization led her to file the suit. She stated to CBS that FAMU does not receive the same amount of funding as other Florida state universities.

“Even if I can’t get more funding, I would hope in the future that other students can have better opportunities,”Peterson spoke to CBS MoneyWatch. 

The students are asking a Florida court to order state officials to reimburse FAMU for the state aid it allegedly should have received and start giving the school the same amount of per-student funding as the University of Florida within the next five years, Hart told CBS Money Watch.

Inside Edition Digital was told by Florida’s State University System that it is not their policy to comment about pending litigation. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office has not responded to Inside Edition Digital’s request for comment.

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