Florida A&M University Students Sue the State over a Biased Funding Gap

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

The state is being sued by the students AllegedRacial discrimination: Claiming that political leaders deliberately withheld equal funding from the historically Black University as opposed to the University of Florida (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,”The lawsuit claims.

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 reported that her Florida State University friend doesn’t need to worry about work while pursuing a master’s degree. She however claims that she was not paid well as a research assistant at FAMU.

Peterson said that this realization motivated her to file the suit. According to her, FAMU is not receiving the same funding as other Florida 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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