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Tallahassee students stand against Engineering School segregation

By Avi Ramanathan |
April 28, 2014
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Tallahassee, FL - On the morning of April 23, over 20 students from Florida State University (FSU) and the historically Black college Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), gathered outside the state capitol building. Despite final exams, they joined together to speak out against the split of the joint FAMU-FSU Engineering School.

Engineering students from both colleges, as well as students of other majors, spoke out vigorously against the proposal. The students were angered by the lack of democracy in the process. Student voices were never once heard when administrators put the proposal through. Many students denounce the proposal as a ‘separate but equal’ policy that treats students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as second-class students.

Brian Marshall, the campus president of FSU Dream Defenders, stated, “This proposal reeks of racism and sends a clear message that predominantly white institutions view themselves as superior over Black institutions.” Students chanted with passion, “Separate but equal is not for the people,” and, “FAMU or FSU, we believe in one goal, one E- school! One E-school! One E-School!” The Engineering School was a joint program run by both universities for 32 years. Reactionary Florida State Senator John Thrasher made the proposal to separate the two schools. John Thrasher is the campaign manager for Florida Governor Rick Scott and is vying for the spot as President of Florida State University. The split is being done under the guise of turning FSU into a Top 25 University.

Regina Joseph, FSU vice-president of Dream Defenders, stated, “FSU may be trying to be a Top 25 university, but it is clearly not concerned with being a Top 25 university in racial diversity and inclusiveness.”

Engineering students took time from their projects and called out the undemocratic move and stated unequivocally that the school would be best served if it stayed united. With only one week left to stop this racist proposal from coming to fruition, organizations like Dream Defenders and National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) are urgently working to stop the split. African-American students in Tallahassee are angered by this second-class treatment. Many students conclude there is an utter disregard from both Florida politicians and campus administrators. Student organizers vow to thrash racism wherever they see it.