Black students compare experiences at HBCUs, Kent State University


Jackson State University, one of the 107 HBCUs across the country.

Chris Bright Reporter

Only 107 of the 4,298 universities in the U.S. are currently classified as a historically Black college or university — an HBCU. This makes deciding on a predominantly white institution, such as Kent State, a much easier decision for Black students. 

Differences in scholarship awards and overall school funding also play a major role in the decision of many Black students. Major universities often receive far more money each year in state funding than HBCUs. 

“You could tell that it was underfunded,” said Keiona Word, a current Kent State graduate student that attended Jackson State for undergrad. “The amount of resources, the amount of professionals, the amount of administration that’s available to the students at Jackson State, my HBCU, is nothing compared to what Kent State receives because it is so much bigger — because it receives so much funding.” 

HBCUs also allow Black students the room to grow and thrive in an environment where they do not have to worry about ridicule from those who do not understand them. Campuses become meccas of Black knowledge, success and power.

“The experience was really great, I wouldn’t give it up for the world,” Word said. “I never felt self-conscious. I never felt like I needed to do anything extra, or hide who I was because everyone around me was just like me. … You have to work a little bit harder to prove yourself when you’re around a lot of people that look like you. Just the same as you do when you’re around people who don’t — there’s just a little bit less pressure because they understand a little bit more.”

On Kent State’s campus, there are many resources available to Black students thorough entities such as the Pan-African studies department, the Student Multicultural Center and organizations like Black United Students. However, how do these services stack up to a university dedicated entirely to Black excellence?

“Kent has done an incredible job of hiring Black people in positions that cater to the whole population,” said Savanna McCarthy, a Kent State alumni who also spent a semester at Southern University.

University faculty have the ability to make major changes on the campus that they work on. Allowing Kent State to have a diverse facility also allows the university to grow and adapt to the needs of its many students.

“When you put Black people in positions that allow them the space and opportunity to create an environment for Black students to thrive in a majority white university, you make it a more equal experience for everyone that’s there,” McCarthy said. “You make it something that can be enjoyed not just by the majority population that you’re touching.”

Chris Bright covers diversity. Contact him at [email protected].