NAICU Washington Update

Congress Seeks Answers on Threats to HBCUs

March 18, 2022

Following Congress’ unanimous passage last week of a concurrent resolution that condemns threats of violence against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and reaffirms support for HBCUs and their students, the House Oversight and Reform Committee held a bi-partisan hearing on the continuing bomb threats to HBCUs.  The committee heard emotional testimony from HBCU students and questioned federal agencies about the status of their ongoing investigations. 

The hearing focused on testimony from student leaders from three HBCU campuses and the lead federal agencies working to address the threats, including the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Education.  Federal witnesses could not address the particulars of the ongoing bomb threats but the FBI assured Members of Congress that it was the Bureau’s top national priority and that suspects had been idenftified.  However, Members of Congress expressed their frustrations that no arrests have been made to date.  

The hearing was led by Committee Chair Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.  The lead Republicans on the full Committee, James Comer (R-KY) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Nancy Mace (R-SC), also participated in the hearing, as did many other members.   

The most moving parts of the hearing were the strong words of students who spoke to the effects the continuing bomb threats are having and how students are responding. The students also gave stirring testimony on the value of HBCUs to the nation’s social, intellectual, and economic fabric. 

The Department of Education witness, Acting Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education Michelle Asha Cooper, provided details on how the threats exacerbated mental health issues with students as well as the need for more resources for security infrastructures on campus.

Earlier in the week, the Department of Education announced that HBCUs are eligible to apply for grant funds under the Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) program, which provides short-term immediate funding for institutions of higher education that have experienced a violent or traumatic incident or a major natural disaster to assist in restoring a safe learning environment.

MORE News from NAICU