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Lawsuit Looks At Possible Racial Divide In Higher Education

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Is there a racial divide in higher education in Maryland?

The state's historically black colleges and universities say yes. They say that they're underfunded by more than $2 billion.

Mary Bubala reports.

A landmark $2.1 billion lawsuit pits Maryland's historically black colleges and universities, like Morgan State, against the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

"At the core of this is simply racism. The failure of the leadership to value the African-American citizenry in Maryland," said Dr. Maurice Taylor, VP, Morgan State University.  

The lawsuit says over a decade Maryland has shortchanged its HBCUs $2.19 billion in revenue that would have gone to thing like campus infrastructure, teacher salaries, technology upgrades and student aid.

Maryland has four HBCUs: Morgan State University, Bowie State University, Coppin State University and The University of Maryland, Eastern Shore.

Students from these universities say they can see the underfunding first-hand.

"Can you imagine the possibilities, can you imagine all the great accomplishments we could have had if we had these smart classrooms, if we had all the Mac laptops that Towson has, when our students can barely get laptops here," said Rashad Staton, junior, Morgan State University.

"We've been promised resources and money and funding for the last 15 to 25 years," said Daquan Lawrence, senior, Morgan State University.

The six-week trial ended last week, and now the students at Morgan State University and at Maryland's other HBCUs are waiting for the judge to make a decision.

If the lawsuit goes their way, the students say there's a lot of catching up to do.

"You look around and it looks like it's growing and it looks like there is growth. It's years of fighting but we are still years behind," said Alvin Hill, junior, Morgan State University.

A final ruling from U.S. District Judge Catherine Black is expected sometime this summer.

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