Mediation Phase of College Segregation Case Begins Now
Following the ruling by a federal judge that Maryland’s historically black colleges are forced to deal with unfair competition from the state’s other universities, parties entered the mediation phase of settling the dispute.
The dispute began in 2006 when a lawsuit was filed against the state by students and alumni from four colleges, including Bowie State, Morgan State, Coppin State, and the University of MD – Eastern Shore. In October, the judge hearing the case ruled that Maryland had not done enough to stop other schools from offering the same programs offered at those four colleges. Some believed this led to segregated campuses and a made it difficult for these universities to attract non-black students. Current statistics show the percentage of black students at these four universities is about 91 percent.
Mediation proceedings began in late January. Most involved believe the process will be expensive and time-consuming. There are also concerns mediation might not be enough to help the situation and the case could end up back in court.
The goal of the state is to conduct a good faith mediation. There is concern the ruling could ultimately hurt all of the universities in state. For instance, the other campuses of the University System of Maryland were not named as defendants in the suit, but they will be affected by whatever outcome is reached. The goal of both sides of the dispute is to elevate the historically black colleges without harming other universities in the state. Though the process might be lengthy, everyone involved hopes that mediation will ultimately result in a win-win situation.