Two months ago, North Carolina Lawmaker Tom Apodaca introduced a bill proposing to cut tuition costs at five public institutions in the name of increasing enrollment and funding for struggling schools, including three historically black colleges.
This afternoon, amidst a firestorm of criticism and protests from alumni and students of the institutions, Apodaca told the News & Observer, “If you can’t give away $70 million, then I’m not going to try to.”
Senate Bill 873, a controversial proposal that threatened to drop the market value and economic stability of Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University and Winston-Salem State University, will drop the black colleges and move forward with predominantly white Western Carolina and historically Native American UNC-Pembroke as the two schools to pilot a $500-per-semester tuition program.
The amendment is the latest in a growing list of changes to the original bill, which sought to offer the three HBCUs up for consideration to change the school names, to adjust the tuition costs and have revenue gaps filled in by a $70 million discretionary investment from state funds, and to limit student fees at the institutions.
The latter two provisions were removed from the bill last week, and the HBCUs will be removed outright in the version of the bill now included in the state’s draft budget for the upcoming year.
Apodaca, who maintained that his intentions were only to help HBCUs gain students and to increase college access, told media that he had become fed up with the protests and outcry against the bill.
“I’m to the point now that if they don’t want to be a part of this bill, I’m willing to take them out and we’ll just do one campus because I’ve never tried to help people in my life and be treated so poorly,” Apodaca told WTVD.