Commentary: This Tale of Woefully Aimless Coeds Reveals a Stunning Lack of Black Pride – at a Black College

It would be easy to blame bitterness as the reason a black columnist would expose how rampant dysfunction at a struggling black college ultimately forced him to abandon his personal promise to teach at one.

But Bill Maxwell's story of his two years at Stillman College, recently splattered on the pages of the St. Petersburg Times, doesn't reek of bitterness.

Instead, it resonates with tough love.

More such love will be needed if HBCU's like Stillman, a Tuscaloosa, Alabama school with less than 1,000 students, are to uphold the mission for which historically black colleges and universities were established in the first place. That is, to give black students whose skin color once barred them from a higher education a chance to get one.

That mission is still relevant today -- in an age in which low SAT scores and abysmal high school preparation would close the door on college for many black youths. Today, HBCUs are probably their last chance to redeem themselves from a secondary school system that has failed them.

Unfortunately, many of the students that Maxwell encountered didn't see college as a new beginning.

They saw it as a way to extend the aimlessness that had ruled their former years.
Maxwell, who gave up a $70,000 a year job at the St. Pete Times to teach and to re-establish the school's journalism department for a pittance of $33,000, wrote about his frustration with students who refused to do even basic things like purchase the required textbooks for class. This they refused to do even though they had book vouchers.

He even had to force one class to walk with him -- as if they were little kids -- to the bookstore to look over their shoulders to make sure they bought their books.

You'd think their being made to do that would embarrass them -- especially since they are grown people.

But it didn't.

There were also the mass absences on days when major assignments were due, as well as routine absences. Class, it seemed, got in the way of their hanging out with their friends.

Then there were the wasted efforts. Like the time Maxwell and a colleague reserved hotel rooms on their own credit cards to take six students to the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C.

They wound up canceling the trip because on the morning they were supposed to leave, only one student showed up.

To be sure, Maxwell also wrote of students who had overcome blistering odds to get to college -- like a young lady who was reared in numerous foster homes -- and who did grasp why they were there. They followed the rules and became successful.

But the anti-intellectualism of most of the students, as well as frustrations with bureaucracy and jealous colleagues, eventually forced Maxwell to return to the St. Pete Times.

It's too bad that happened. What would be worse, however, would be for Maxwell's experience to be dismissed as a bitter rant instead of a wakeup call.

What Maxwell encountered at Stillman, I fear, was the pervasive way in which nihilistic street culture has muddled even the minds of black students who are supposed to be aiming for something better in life. It's the same stupidity that governs criminals who spend more time learning the laws and what penalties they'll receive if they commit a certain type of crime, instead of seeing the possibilities that life can offer if they don't commit the crime at all.

For many students such as the ones Maxwell knew, the mentality is about the same. For them, college isn't about unlocking the opportunities that can come from working within the system, but about working the system period.

The students who wouldn't buy their textbooks, for example, obviously didn't want to be forced to read. Apparently, many of them figured that if enough of them didn't buy the books, their instructor couldn't flunk all of them. The same apparently goes when it comes to assignments, as Maxwell had to wind up abandoning his syllabus largely because of the students' lack of cooperation.

What's also maddening is how Maxwell's students apparently don't realize how much they cheat themselves when they do these things -- because by forcing instructors like him to lower standards because they won't even do something as simple as buy a textbook, they play into the hands of racists who make it tough for them to get jobs, and who believe that all black people are lazy and must have standards lowered for them.

If those students had any sense of real black pride, they'd be intent on elevating Stillman to a place of excellence, not playing into a stereotype.

Let's start building some hurtin' bombs!! --Tony "Duke" Evers

Original Post
This is quite the logical leap. A handful of journalism students define the attitude of the entire student body at Stillman & HBCUs in general?

nono
quote:
Originally posted by ddouble:
This is quite the logical leap. A handful of journalism students define the attitude of the entire student body at Stillman & HBCUs in general?

nono


It's quite interesting that you asked, ddouble. Actually, I wanted to write a commentary on HBCU's myself but I held off because I didn't want a firestorm of hate emails steaming down my back. I've experienced exactly the same kind of "lack of black pride" from students as well as a lack of professionalism and pure incompetance amongst the faculty and administration.

I've experienced everything from being billed by the library for an overdue encyclopedia (how the hell do you check out a damn encyclopedia in the first place?) to almost being kicked out of the graduate program at another HBCU because the interim dean was too lazy to look through my file and realize that I was grandfathered in under the old policy before he came to the university.

There are HBCU's that have been literally placed on lockdown from a security standpoint just in the past few years because students and local negroes from the community have literally vandalized, raped, and pilaged the campus over the years. I've witnessed college students on the various HBCU campuses digress from being conscious responsible people to thugs and ho's that parade around campus and lounge around the student center 24-7-365 and they're not engaged in study sessions or volunteering for some student organization either. I'm sure immoral, counterproductive activity doesn't happen at all HBCU's but enough of them are experiencing enough garbage that it's time for it to be exposed to the public.
quote:
Originally posted by ddouble:
This is quite the logical leap. A handful of journalism students define the attitude of the entire student body at Stillman & HBCUs in general?

nono

Unfortunately, this sounds a lot like my friend's experience who teaches at Bethune Cookman. I think that I have mentioned it here before, but she has stories of the community being scarred of the thuggery of students involved in drugs, theft, assault, etc. Her salary is also considerably less than she could make at a predominantly white liberal arts college or state university, not to mention that they did away with tenure at least a decade ago. She is certainly overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.
I'm not trying to excuse the behaviors that Maxwell witnesssed, but it is dangerous, very dangerous, to make the few representative of the whole. I'm certain that one could go to any college/university in the country, be it a HBCU or Ivy League institution and find shining examples of slackard/anti-intellectualism. What about the majority of the student body that take their education seriously?
This past summer I returned to MS Valley State Univ. (class of 81, SWAC in the house Cool) to see how my old university was doing, while I took pride in the number of new buildings on the campus I was also very dismayed at the fact that the entire campus has a security fence around it and a security checkpoint though which one had to enter. Didn't have this when I went to school and it caused me to wonder just what had happened to cause them to put up the fence and security checkpoint.

Having attended school there from 77-81, I can honestly say that while there were plenty of eagar students there were also a fair number of slackers, I don't see how that is any different from any school white or black. If anything bothered me when I went to school there it was the corruption in the school administration that everybody seemed to know about, but for some reason could not be fixed. Everything from financial aid records being altered to the student government president pocketing money from equipment that students rented instead of paying the company.
I attended two white Universities and graduated from both, as did the few other blacks that were there. But I can't help but wonder how much of this anti-academic behavior is a social class issue? If you consider where many of these black students who attend HBCU's come from, some of them may be absent of some social values (like the need to sacrifice and delay certain gratifications in order to study) that are conducive to college graduation.
Perhaps those students would have fared better in a skills-tradesmanship program. Many an A.A. student is sold on the fact that college is for everyone when in reality it isn't.

In order for a society or nation to be functional there must be a fair smattering of professionals, para-professionals, tradesmen, clericals, laborers, civil servants etc.

Multiple factors could be:

A) The youngsters were'nt properly prepared at the pre-collegiate level.

B) they could have been Open Enrollment recipients.

C) their parent/s never had any interest in their child's performance

D) the kids are just not cut-out for college-level instruction

E) their instructor/s may or may not have been suitable for academic instruction.

F) the swill of (c)rap music culture(as mentioned) may have permeated their(student) psyches.

G) this nations cut-off or severe reduction of educational financing could have totally eliminated Shop Programs therefore placing the student in a situation where they HAVE TO attend college to making some level of money or even gain respect!

I'm an advocate of higher education but I think the above should be weighed in.
Interesting Article. It's sad that the situation didn't work out. I do wonder what the instructor did beyond judging the students to motivate them?

Also, this anecdotal experience cannot be said to be representative of student behavior at All or even Most HBCU's

given that a

Howard, Spellman, Morehouse, Southern, or Tennessee State has thousands of disciplined and studious individuals on campus.

This article doesn't do a good enough job of recognizing that a 12,000 student FAMU has sent many doctors lawyers, businessmen, and musicians along life's path with enthusiasm.
quote:
Originally posted by jazzdog:

This past summer I returned to MS Valley State Univ. (class of 81, SWAC in the house Cool) to see how my old university was doing, while I took pride in the number of new buildings on the campus I was also very dismayed at the fact that the entire campus has a security fence around it and a security checkpoint though which one had to enter. Didn't have this when I went to school and it caused me to wonder just what had happened to cause them to put up the fence and security checkpoint.


JazzDog! You're a "Delta Devil"???

I went to Jackson State University (Jackson Ms)for undergrad.

"MAC OF THE SWAC" 10 years running

Often imitated, but never duplicated...

heh heh heh
Yeah, I'm a Delta Devil, Our Commander who just left the installation where I work is a grad of Jackson State, best believe there was some serious trash talking at the staff meetings Big Grin
Greetings, I'm new here... not sure if I am suppose to respond to threads first or introduce myself. However, I would like to add my opinion involving the article as well as the comments of dialogue.

I did not attend a HBCU, but most of family members have and I can say judging from their experience (re: conversations with family members) that many students were engaged in their studies.

This new type of attitude that the writer presents appear to relate to his own personalised view within a younger generation. And to an certain degree, what he identifies has some form of truth.

When my family attended my younger brother's graduation, our older brother was taken aback by the way his generation behaved. Although there were students whose interest were to achieve some type of qualification for preparation of a career, others engaged in 'wastefulness' by means of entertainment (re: joining a frat, chasing girls, drinking, partying etc). Some of my brother's friends did not use the opporuntity as a way to enable self-progression.

And, as for me, I attended college as the lowest level due to my poor math ability and writing style also bearing in mind ( my SAT scores), but continued to reinforce 'in mind' reasons for attending college.

Although I completed my degree with average grades, I became more engaged in the process of learning after I relocated abroad. I was blessed to have a brilliant professor whom taught me how to write in-depth analytical essays in a way that I never thought I was capable of doing.

So, as I see it, the issue of HBCU students' progression or interest in learning does not necessary resonate with most peers; the culture of 'academic learning comes about as a result of where specific students are at during the mode of their intended studies.
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by jazzdog:

This past summer I returned to MS Valley State Univ. (class of 81, SWAC in the house Cool) to see how my old university was doing, while I took pride in the number of new buildings on the campus I was also very dismayed at the fact that the entire campus has a security fence around it and a security checkpoint though which one had to enter. Didn't have this when I went to school and it caused me to wonder just what had happened to cause them to put up the fence and security checkpoint.


JazzDog! You're a "Delta Devil"???

I went to Jackson State University (Jackson Ms)for undergrad.

"MAC OF THE SWAC" 10 years running

Often imitated, but never duplicated...

heh heh heh



PVA&M here........I have been given different reviews of the situation there....some say it is much more under control.....others say fools pack guns....which was very rare in our day....to the extent it became common knowledge....
quote:
Originally posted by Kevin41:
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by jazzdog:

This past summer I returned to MS Valley State Univ. (class of 81, SWAC in the house Cool) to see how my old university was doing, while I took pride in the number of new buildings on the campus I was also very dismayed at the fact that the entire campus has a security fence around it and a security checkpoint though which one had to enter. Didn't have this when I went to school and it caused me to wonder just what had happened to cause them to put up the fence and security checkpoint.


JazzDog! You're a "Delta Devil"???

I went to Jackson State University (Jackson Ms)for undergrad.

"MAC OF THE SWAC" 10 years running

Often imitated, but never duplicated...

heh heh heh



PVA&M here........I have been given different reviews of the situation there....some say it is much more under control.....others say fools pack guns....which was very rare in our day....to the extent it became common knowledge....


Prairie View?
JSU used to stomp that A every year! but now JSU has a sorry coach

At any rate, I can understand your concerns about guns, etc on HBCU campuses

but how is that different than Virginia tech?

Some students party, some students study, some students go nuts regardless of race.

good to see u posting again beer
Last edited {1}
quote:
Originally posted by Kevin41:
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by jazzdog:

This past summer I returned to MS Valley State Univ. (class of 81, SWAC in the house Cool) to see how my old university was doing, while I took pride in the number of new buildings on the campus I was also very dismayed at the fact that the entire campus has a security fence around it and a security checkpoint though which one had to enter. Didn't have this when I went to school and it caused me to wonder just what had happened to cause them to put up the fence and security checkpoint.


JazzDog! You're a "Delta Devil"???

I went to Jackson State University (Jackson Ms)for undergrad.

"MAC OF THE SWAC" 10 years running

Often imitated, but never duplicated...

heh heh heh



PVA&M here........I have been given different reviews of the situation there....some say it is much more under control.....others say fools pack guns....which was very rare in our day....to the extent it became common knowledge....


Just had some good friends move from this area back down to Texas, both were graduates of Praire View. Its good to see the SWAC represented here on the board.

By the way I echo Negrospiritual remarks on the football, Praire View is a good school but then boys absolutely cannot play any ball Big Grin
well im a proud graduate of Virginia State University (Trojans) member of the oldest black conference, the CIAA,
quote:
Originally posted by Kevin41:
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by jazzdog:

This past summer I returned to MS Valley State Univ. (class of 81, SWAC in the house Cool) to see how my old university was doing, while I took pride in the number of new buildings on the campus I was also very dismayed at the fact that the entire campus has a security fence around it and a security checkpoint though which one had to enter. Didn't have this when I went to school and it caused me to wonder just what had happened to cause them to put up the fence and security checkpoint.


JazzDog! You're a "Delta Devil"???

I went to Jackson State University (Jackson Ms)for undergrad.

"MAC OF THE SWAC" 10 years running

Often imitated, but never duplicated...

heh heh heh



PVA&M here........I have been given different reviews of the situation there....some say it is much more under control.....others say fools pack guns....which was very rare in our day....to the extent it became common knowledge....

K41,
Maybe you can help me with this. I have had this question in the back of my mind for some time now, and it has to do with the difference between TSU and PVA&M. Now I do not wish to disparage anyone's alma mater, but there seems to be a distinct difference in the caliber of students at the two schools, the better being from Prairie View. I know several students who are in grad programs at Rice, and I have a family friend who is a retired faculty member from their.

Might you have any insights on why this might be the case. TSU is really struggling and needs some serious help, IMHO. Why two historically black state colleges/universities so close to one another, of what to me seems quite disparate quality?
quote:
Originally posted by kresge:
quote:
Originally posted by Kevin41:
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by jazzdog:

This past summer I returned to MS Valley State Univ. (class of 81, SWAC in the house Cool) to see how my old university was doing, while I took pride in the number of new buildings on the campus I was also very dismayed at the fact that the entire campus has a security fence around it and a security checkpoint though which one had to enter. Didn't have this when I went to school and it caused me to wonder just what had happened to cause them to put up the fence and security checkpoint.


JazzDog! You're a "Delta Devil"???

I went to Jackson State University (Jackson Ms)for undergrad.

"MAC OF THE SWAC" 10 years running

Often imitated, but never duplicated...

heh heh heh



PVA&M here........I have been given different reviews of the situation there....some say it is much more under control.....others say fools pack guns....which was very rare in our day....to the extent it became common knowledge....

K41,
Maybe you can help me with this. I have had this question in the back of my mind for some time now, and it has to do with the difference between TSU and PVA&M. Now I do not wish to disparage anyone's alma mater, but there seems to be a distinct difference in the caliber of students at the two schools, the better being from Prairie View. I know several students who are in grad programs at Rice, and I have a family friend who is a retired faculty member from their.

Might you have any insights on why this might be the case. TSU is really struggling and needs some serious help, IMHO. Why two historically black state colleges/universities so close to one another, of what to me seems quite disparate quality?


Kresge

What difference in "caliber" have you noticed in the grad students from TSU and PV?

What things are they doing differently?
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by kresge:
quote:
Originally posted by Kevin41:
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by jazzdog:

This past summer I returned to MS Valley State Univ. (class of 81, SWAC in the house Cool) to see how my old university was doing, while I took pride in the number of new buildings on the campus I was also very dismayed at the fact that the entire campus has a security fence around it and a security checkpoint though which one had to enter. Didn't have this when I went to school and it caused me to wonder just what had happened to cause them to put up the fence and security checkpoint.


JazzDog! You're a "Delta Devil"???

I went to Jackson State University (Jackson Ms)for undergrad.

"MAC OF THE SWAC" 10 years running

Often imitated, but never duplicated...

heh heh heh



PVA&M here........I have been given different reviews of the situation there....some say it is much more under control.....others say fools pack guns....which was very rare in our day....to the extent it became common knowledge....

K41,
Maybe you can help me with this. I have had this question in the back of my mind for some time now, and it has to do with the difference between TSU and PVA&M. Now I do not wish to disparage anyone's alma mater, but there seems to be a distinct difference in the caliber of students at the two schools, the better being from Prairie View. I know several students who are in grad programs at Rice, and I have a family friend who is a retired faculty member from their.

Might you have any insights on why this might be the case. TSU is really struggling and needs some serious help, IMHO. Why two historically black state colleges/universities so close to one another, of what to me seems quite disparate quality?


Kresge

What difference in "caliber" have you noticed in the grad students from TSU and PV?

What things are they doing differently?

Basically, I know of no TSU (Texas Southern University) students in graduate programs at Rice. I know several from Prairie View, in science, engineering, the humanities, and the business school.

One of the factors at TSU is that it has open enrollment, which means - according to their website - they accept "all eligible students with a high school diploma or GED equivalent." I do not think this is true of PVA&M.

The few times that I have been over on the campus, I have found it rather depressing. It does not feel like an intellectually stimulating place at all. It is very rundown, the library is abysmal, there have been numerous financial scandals, etc. When I have been there, it seems like many of the students are sleep walking through campus, on cruise control, and not particularly motivated.

The impression that I am left with is that if one is a decent student in the Houston area who wishes to remain in the area, yet attend a historically black school, one goes to Prairie View. If one is a decent student and the make up of the school is irrelevant, one would attend the University of Houston, or in the case of a select few, Rice University.
All I gotta say is...

The SWAC is WACK...

CIAA?? Get out my way!!

The is where you should BE!!!

Look out y'all, cuz BIG BLUE is commin' thru!! Razz Wink Big Grin

I would say that it is very difficult to assess the attitudes of students at all HBCU's on the basis of 100 or so students (I assumed that 1000 would be evenly divided amongst the 10 majors at the college)...

It would be equally difficult to make an assessment on the basis of one professor's experience over a period of just two years...

It would seem to me that a teacher is under no obligation to change his or her curriculum, just because the students choose not to buy the book... I think that he should've kept right on teaching and the students would either have to comply or fail... THAT is tough love...

From what I can tell, Howard has never been accused of student apathy, we were always taking over the administration building or having some sort of protest on the basis of something that we felt was not right, when I was there... I really can't speak to today's students, but in talking to a few of them, the fire is apparently still burning...
The SWAC is WACK...

CIAA?? Get out my way!!

The is where you should BE!!!

Look out y'all, cuz BIG BLUE is commin' thru!!


Audio Guy, didnt your parents tell you to respect your elders? Dont forget where you come from!
quote:
Originally posted by kresge:
quote:
Originally posted by Kevin41:
quote:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
quote:
Originally posted by jazzdog:

This past summer I returned to MS Valley State Univ. (class of 81, SWAC in the house Cool) to see how my old university was doing, while I took pride in the number of new buildings on the campus I was also very dismayed at the fact that the entire campus has a security fence around it and a security checkpoint though which one had to enter. Didn't have this when I went to school and it caused me to wonder just what had happened to cause them to put up the fence and security checkpoint.


JazzDog! You're a "Delta Devil"???

I went to Jackson State University (Jackson Ms)for undergrad.

"MAC OF THE SWAC" 10 years running

Often imitated, but never duplicated...

heh heh heh



PVA&M here........I have been given different reviews of the situation there....some say it is much more under control.....others say fools pack guns....which was very rare in our day....to the extent it became common knowledge....

K41,
Maybe you can help me with this. I have had this question in the back of my mind for some time now, and it has to do with the difference between TSU and PVA&M. Now I do not wish to disparage anyone's alma mater, but there seems to be a distinct difference in the caliber of students at the two schools, the better being from Prairie View. I know several students who are in grad programs at Rice, and I have a family friend who is a retired faculty member from their.

Might you have any insights on why this might be the case. TSU is really struggling and needs some serious help, IMHO. Why two historically black state colleges/universities so close to one another, of what to me seems quite disparate quality?




**That is good question and I would have to examine the regents and the financial management and administration of the schools. When I attended PV, we were known for engineering (my major was electrical engr.) and nursing and education to a lesser extent...TSU was known for Law, pharmacists and education. I would look at the societal factors....PV is waaay out of Houston and the distractions of clubs and urban lifestyles are not nearly as prevelant. Also since my days, the "cuts" where you could ride around and drink brew and go back and forth amongst the female dorms were eliminated, so some cultural changes probably could be factored in. Thanks negrospiritual...it is good to be back....I had quite a few classes to teach and was busy similar to what EP stated before but I have been lurking and just reading and learning....the boards are much more productive now that the self-loathers and antagonists have been removed.......some truly progressive dialogue goes on here.........

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