Grambling Football isn’t the only thing suffering on a state campus in Louisiana. If taxpayers acted more like the Grambling players, who refused to attend the team’s game against Jackson State in protest this weekend, maybe higher education in Louisiana would be in a better place.
In a letter to Grambling University administrators, the players cited moldy equipment and facilities, harsh travel conditions, unwarranted staffing changes and having to pay for their own Gatorade. The administration should have met their demands.
But could they? We now know the Grambling officials didn’t, and the students played their most important card.
Spectators mistakenly focused on a game that was supposed to be. The boycott occurred during JSU’ homecoming no less. Many are shaken with questions of whether or not Grambling will play Southern this year for the annual Bayou Classic, which is played in New Orleans during Thanksgiving weekend. However, there are many more important questions to explore.
What about persistent and pervasive reductions to higher education funding in Louisiana? What about the disparate impact these cuts have on historically black colleges and universities?
Grambling University Football may take a hit, but if taxpayers march like Grambling’s famous band, then we may save many academic programs that are also buckling across the state. The public must pass our infatuation with sports, which proves to be a distraction from demanding adequate funding to higher education.
The HD that covers football merely exposes one symptom of a crumbling public higher education infrastructure in Louisiana. Something had to give in the state. We should be clear that this is a self-inflicted wound caused by actions behind “doing more with less” rhetoric, which runs its inevitable course. To think in 2007, Gov. Bobby Jindal eliminated revenue by repealing the “Stelly Tax” plan, and he cut taxes for the wealthiest Louisianians. Consequently, higher education and health care were placed on the sidelines because of their discretionary status in the budget.
Louisiana spent $1.4 billion for higher education in fiscal year 2007-08. However in 2013 Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget contained $284.5 million for colleges and universities. The 80 percent reduction in state funding equates to not only moldy football equipment; it equates to statewide shortages for science labs, student life programing and need-based aid.