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Trump’s Political Rhetoric Forces Black Students to Enroll in HBCUs

Radicalized rhetoric by Donald Trump during his presidential campaign has resulted in social and political climate that is forcing many African-American students to apply in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

A study conducted by Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE) Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) looked at the relationship between political rhetoric and its effect on enrollment at HBCUs between 2016-2018.

Researchers interviewed 80 current Black undergraduate students from across four HBCUs. Along with rhetoric, the study noted that the lack of safe spaces in high school and experiences of blatant racism and microaggressions from teachers and non-Black peers in high school influence many students to opt for HBCUs.

The questions of safety on campus and in the surrounding community at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) along with media coverage of inclusion and exclusion based on identity on PWIs and HBCUs also affected the black students’ choice of college.

“During and after the election, I was getting in arguments with White students all the time. I mean, it started senior year/middle of junior year. It was surprising because I didn’t know how people who I thought were my friends felt about certain topics,” Ayana B., a freshman studying communications and journalism, told the researchers.

“I started to feel like I was in danger, like I was way more in danger than I actually thought… I really got to see people behind what they try to present as, especially some people who claim themselves as democrats or liberals and things like that. I just felt like they don’t have my back. It was kind of like the same view I had with Stanford and Dallas Baptist. They don’t want me. They could definitely do without me; they probably don’t want me there at all. That’s exactly why I had to go to a HBCU.”

Recent reports have found that enrollment, degree and economic impacts of HBCUs on African American populations within their respective states are far better than their sizes and resources.

A United Negro College Fund (UNCF) report revealed that HBCUs across 21 southern states and territories enroll 24 percent of black undergraduates and award 26 percent of all bachelor’s degrees to black students.

About 70 percent of graduates from HBCUs also end up earning middle-class incomes, which is a greater percentage than that for PWIs. Overall, the upward mobility is nearly 50 percent higher at HBCUs than PWIs.

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