Albany State students protest to keep HBCU status in mission statement

Hundreds of Albany State University students walked out of a presentation Friday by the school’s president in protest of the school’s new mission statement.

Students are upset that the new statement lacks any reference to Albany State's status as an historically black college or university, according to a report by local news station WALB. The students wore all black and left the building at the same time, the station reported.

The new mission statement, approved this week by the state’s Board of Regents, is part of a merger between Albany State and Darton State College.

The consolidation is the first in Georgia to combine a historically black college with a predominantly white institution. Regents approved the initial merger plan last year, and at the time University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby vowed to maintain Albany State's HBCU mission.

The new mission statement for the combined school gives a nod to Albany State's origins, but does not include the term "historically black" institution," like the school's previous statement did.

The original statement begins:

“Albany State University, a historically black institution in Southwest Georgia, has been a catalyst for change in the region from its inception as the Albany Bible and Manual Training Institute to its designation as a university. Founded in 1903 to educate African American youth, the University proudly continues to fulfill its historic mission while also serving the educational needs of an increasingly diverse student population.”

The new statement includes this sentence:

“ASU respects and builds on the historical roots of its institutional predecessors with its commitment to access and a strong liberal arts heritage that respects diversity in all its forms and gives all students the foundation they need to succeed.”

Students involved in the protest and others supporting them took to social media with messages about keeping the HBCU in ASU, and tweeting with hashtags including #HBCUStrong

We have reached out to Albany State’s administration about the protest over the mission statement, and will update this report with any response they provide.

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