DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Bethune Cookman University students are asking for a change in leadership after they say the university has not followed through with promises to better their experience.
- BCU students protest grievances with school's finances, accreditation
- SACS report explains BCU was placed on probation in June
- BCU receives partial public funding for its students
Students held a protest Monday to express their grievances about finances and accreditation. They said they hope their voices are heard.
As hundreds of students rallied and marched on Bethune Cookman University's campus, Norma Bland said it’s an opportunity for leadership to listen up.
"The only way we can get things right with this university is to uncover and to cleanse," said Bland, a master's degree-seeking student.
Financial issues, scholarships, leadership, and accreditation are among the issues these students want to see fixed.
"I just know that something needs to be changed immediately, because this is not how school is supposed to be," said Ian Allen, another student.
"I wish that the president, the board of trustees would come forth and speak to the students as a whole and hear us out," said fellow student Marquavis Myers said.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, also known as SACS, released a report that explains BCU was placed on probation in June.
The commission said BCU has failed to demonstrate compliance with the governing board characteristics, financial resources, financial responsibility, and control over the finances.
"I feel like we see the donations that the school receives, and there’s a lot of money being put back into the school, but as a student I feel like the president and the trustees aren't doing a good example of showing where the money is going," Myers said.
Although BCU is private, it still receives partial public funding for its students.
For example, a record from the National Center for Education Statistics shows in 2016 the university received more than $4 million in federal grants and more than $3 million in local and state grants and scholarships.
"If we want to prove to SACS we're trying to do the right thing, we need to clean house completely, beginning with the president on down," Bland said.
The commission said the university can remain on probation for up to two years. Right now they have until 2019 to correct these issues, but probation is the commission's most serious sanction, and if changes aren't made after the probationary period, the university could lose its accreditation.
The university released the following statement Monday:
"Today our students displayed tremendous solidarity in expressing their perspectives regarding their concerns with the future of Bethune-Cookman University. The Office of Student Affairs supports our students and their exercise of their first amendment right as they take a position on the challenges of our esteemed University - the place where success begins for many of them. We cannot help but to applaud the peaceful manner in which they've voiced their concerns. As we continue to shape solutions to address some key problematic areas we look forward to furthering the dialogue with our student leadership and encouraging them to continue the development of their voices as we approach the election season."