Attorney Ben Crump advises TSU on legal options to retrieve funding

TSU student leaders seek legal options as they work toward retrieving more than $2 billion in alleged federal funding.
TSU students brought in civil rights attorney Ben Crump to discuss the implications of the missing $2 billion in alleged federal funding.
Published: Oct. 4, 2023 at 5:12 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Tennessee State University students are leading the charge to retrieve billions of state dollars after a federal report claimed billions of dollars should have been given to land-grant HBCUs across the nation.

TSU students held a news conference along with civil rights attorney Ben Crump to discuss the implications of missing funds. Student leaders are leaning on Crump for legal guidance specifically for options to obtain those funds from the state government.

“They wanted to know if they could go forward with their legal options. And I shared with them that they have absolutely every right to demand equality,” said Crump, during the news conference.

After the news conference, the group held a rally and town hall meeting inside of Kean Hall. TSU’s Grammy-award-winning Aristocrats of Bands performed during the rally. Many of the students held signs and wore t-shirts that read “TSU $2 Billion, we’ve been cheated” during the rally.

“This is our moment. Our moment to move forward and to achieve our funds and resources that are rightfully ours,” said Derrell Taylor, TSU SGA President.

Crump mentioned how economic achievement has a direct correlation to education access in this country. He says overall there’s a wealth gap in America, and this underfunding issue is a direct reflection of it.

“We can’t have two different ways of arithmetic in America one for white colleges and another for black colleges,” said Crump.

Crump showcased how there was a tale of two cities where land-grant institutions were severely underfunded compared to predominantly land-grant institutions in the state of Tennessee. Now, he’s advocating for TSU to demand those funds from the state legislature.

“I serve on the board of trustees and we’re left to make the most with less and do more with little,” said Sean Wimberly, Jr., a TSU Senior and Board of Trustees Student member.

“I just do not think that this is fair to me and students like me and my peers have to compare our experiences. We have so much talent on this campus,” said Chrishonda O’Quinn, a TSU senior and SGA vice president.

Current TSU student leaders shared their own experiences of how these state funds could have made an incredible impact on past and present students. They talked about how their university could have advanced, from up-to-date housing, technology advances, and more academic options if $2 Billion was given to the university.

“If they right this historic wrong, then I’m sure the responsible leadership here at Tennessee State University will work with them,” said Crump. “However, if they refuse to write this wrong then these students are pretty adamant they will meet this moment in history.”

For more information on how you can get involved, click here.