While there is at least one billionaire teaming up with a billion-dollar conglomerate to donate funds to questionable recipients, there was at least one historically Black college really putting its money up in the name of social justice in the truest sense. Hampton University announced on Thursday that students enrolled at the University of the Bahamas who were affected by Hurricane Dorian were invited to continue their education on its picturesque waterfront campus in southeastern Virginia — for free.
Dr. William R. Harvey, Hampton’s longtime president, said there was no question whether Hampton would lend a helping hand to students in need.
“I think this agreement is something that can be helpful to a great number of students and families, and is part of something I’ve tried to do my entire career – helping people to achieve and meet their goals,” Harvey said in a brief statement.
The deal will allow University of Bahamas students to attend Hampton tuition-free along with paid room and board for the rest of the current 2019 fall semester. The students who choose to do so “will have the option to stay at Hampton once the semester is over at regular rates for tuition and fees,” the school’s press release said.
Hurricane Dorian was a Category 5 storm when it hit the archipelago in the Caribbean, bringing winds of up to 200 miles per hour, leaving widespread flooding, ruined homes and buildings and killing at least 30 people. While the mainstream news has been covering the overall international aid effort, the story of students who have had their educations interrupted has seemingly not been told.
Hampton’s generosity apparently got at least one person wondering on Twitter why other HBCUs weren’t reaching into their philanthropic pocketbooks to pay it forward to the University of the Bahamas, which announced on Wednesday that it was “closed and classes are suspended until further notice.”
But it wasn’t just HBCUs that the Twitter user challenged — it was those in Florida, the state closest to the Bahamas at just more than 300 miles away. The tweet specifically name all four of the Sunshine State’s HBCUS: Edward Waters College, Bethune Cookman College, Florida A&M University and Florida Memorial University.
While that may sound like an ideal situation, in practical, more realistic terms, everybody’s financial situation doesn’t look like Hampton’s reported endowment of more than $260 million. So perhaps the true spirit of the tweet was just to encourage HBCUs in general to play a more active role in a horrific humanitarian crisis that disproportionately affects Black and brown people. (Technically, Howard University and Spelman College have many more millions on stash. Heck, the entire top 10, when pooled together, isn’t too shabby, either. But we digress.)
Maybe the post was also a subtle reference to more celebrities with wealthy resources not stepping up to the plate. Tyler Perry on Thursday pledged to the Bahamas that “as soon as I can, I will be there to do whatever I can to help you rebuild stronger and better.”
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To all the incredible people of the Bahamas who have welcomed me and called me an adoptive son, I want you to know that I am watching closely, and as soon as I can, I will be there to do whatever I can to help you rebuild stronger and better. You’re not only in my heart and my prayers, you’re in my blood. God bless you. Stay Bahamas strong. The sun will shine agin. #HurricaneDorian
Hurricane Dorian was initially forecast to wallop Florida on Labor Day before the mammoth storm left the state largely unscathed, prompting Floridians to praise the weather gods for sparing it of any further damage after Hurricane Michael last year.