FVSU alumni stand behind lawsuit

Leaders of Fort Valley State University’s alumni association are standing behind a lawsuit filed by the Georgia State Conference NAACP.

A sophomore from Fort Valley State University and a freshman from Savannah State University are also included as plaintiffs in the case.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, claims Georgia’s public historically black colleges and universities — Albany State University, Fort Valley State University and Savannah State University — are underfunded in comparison to other colleges in the state.

Gov. Sonny Perdue and Erroll B. Davis, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, are named as the defendants in the suit.

Robert Ross, Fort Valley State’s National Alumni Association president, said HBCUs such as Fort Valley State deserve their fair share of state resources.

“We’re concerned about the programs and the funds they should have received. We’re also concerned about the support due and any support that is forthcoming,” Ross said.

John H. Simmons, president of Fort Valley State’s Macon-Bibb County alumni chapter, also said the school would benefit from increased funds.

“We need to get our fair share of the pie, too,” he said. “With the economy, our schools are suffering.”

Meanwhile, though Fort Valley State may be affected by the results of the litigation, the school itself has not played a part in the pending suit, said Executive Vice President Canter Brown.

“President (Larry) Rivers and the administration are focused on moving Fort Valley State ahead with the economic problems and budget difficulties,” he said.

HBCUs play an important role because they serve college students who may not have the same academic resources as students at other schools, Brown said.

“There’s a poor understanding from people generally of the vitally important role by HBCUs,” Brown said. “Most students are poor, first-generation college students. They’re bright and full of promise. They require an educational environment that offers the kind of mentoring ... usually not available in a college or university.”

Simmons believes the university isn’t able to offer academic programs that would attract more students, such as nursing and doctorate degrees, because of the funding it receives.

“The students are not coming because we don’t have the necessary courses for them to go further,” he said.