Life Goes On At TSU Despite Troubles

State Representative Garnet Coleman at TSU
|It's one of the largest historically black independent colleges in the nation, a once-proud campus that has been brought to its knees by financial and administrative scandals. But as Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, students at Texas Southern University say they see better days ahead.

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On a sunny but cold day in the middle of campus, a casual observer might never know anything is wrong at TSU, with a clock tower's rings mixing with student's voices as they head to class. It's been hard year at Texas Southern, but students like Yvonne Fedee say they're not giving up on the school.

"I think the thing that people on the outside don't realize is educationally, I'm very happy with the education that I'm getting, it's just administratively this school, I don't know why, just can't seem to get its act together. When you hear this negative stuff on the new over and over and over again, I worry about what perception employers are getting about the quality of the graduates that this place must be producing."

With possible fee increases in the works, a deficit of well over $25 million and a campus that's seen its better days, it may seem to outsiders that there isn't much to be proud of right now at TSU. Sophomore Jyme Roundtree has a 3.3 grade point average and says his goal is to raise it to a 3.5.

"Texas Southern University, people don't realize, is a gem trapped in a lump of coal. It has mass amounts of potential. The staff here in excellent, the teachers here are phenomenal. The real-life experience that you get in your classroom is unequivocal to any other school that I've ever been too. People don't realize that and they don't accept that and for that, they don't care about that and that's pretty sad."

Last month, Governor Rick Perry told regents they had 45 days to straighten things out at the school or risk the consequences. Student body president Claire Bailey says she's looking forward to a change.

"We want to ask that the new administration or the new president that is going to be selected is going to follow the protocol and policies."

"I mean look, I can give you the governor's number right now. 512-463-2000."

At a gathering outside the TSU student center, State Representative Garnet Coleman is literally handing out phone numbers, encouraging students to contact state leadership to help solve the problem. He's filed several bills in Austin that would get TSU back on track financially.

"If it was a family that was rocked the way this campus has been rocked by the publicity, they'd have a hard time recovering. But this campus has more resilience and the people who are here have more resilience than most people thing. The sky is not falling and this campus can move forward."

Under some scenarios, the school could be absorbed into the state university system is progress isn't made on its financial and administrative issues.

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...