Students protest after Shaw shifts aid money

Posted August 4, 2015

— Shaw University's decision to change how its financial aid money is distributed prompted an outcry Tuesday from students and families.

Dozens of members of the Platinum Sound Marching Band protested outside Shaw's administrative building after President-elect Tashni Dubroy decided to shift some tuition grant money from them, the football team and the men's and women's basketball teams to the Honors College, students who have GPAs of 3.5 or better and the choir.

Dubroy, who took the reins at Shaw on Monday, met with the protesters to explain her actions, which she says are in the best interests of Shaw's financial future.

"I want this to be a teaching moment for everyone," she said. "I have to serve as president for all, not just a slim few."

Band members receive a total of $525,000 in grant funds annually – students referred to the money as scholarships, while Dubroy called them "tuition discounts." The football team receives $550,000, and the men's and women's basketball teams split $500,000. Meanwhile, students with high GPAs receive no scholarships, while those in the Honors College receive only $250 for books, Dubroy said.

"Due to declining enrollment, we can no longer afford that tuition discount," she said, declining to say whether the total pool of grant funds was being cut in addition to being redistributed.

Private support to Shaw would replace the university grants, Dubroy told the protesters, so their overall financial aid packages shouldn't be affected.

The news didn't calm the students, who were upset that the changes came without notice and only days before the start of the 2015-16 school year.

"A lot of us depend on scholarships," said Mizani Gibbs, a rising sophomore from Georgia. "It’s not like we had a year preparation that would give us time to prepare and figure out how to get that extra amount of money."

Gibbs said her mother struggles to put her through college, and the grant money is "an outlet and relief for her."

Charlie Brown, director of the Platinum Sound, sent a letter to Shaw's Board of Trustees complaining about the money shift, prompting Dubroy to issue a memo in response. She noted in the memo that Brown refused her suggestions to boost outside support of the band, while Marcus Clark, Shaw's athletic director, was working on fundraising efforts to provide more scholarships to student-athletes

"Our entire Shaw University family, including students, need to actively participate in raising support for their respective programs. Fundraising is not solely the responsibility of the President of Shaw or the Office of Institutional Advancement," she wrote in the memo.

Dubroy also invited the protesters back on Friday if they are still displeased with their financial aid packages.


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Forest Hazel Aug 5, 2015
    user avatar

    Hmmmm..... Emphasizing academics over athletics. Maybe UNC and a few other schools should sit up and take notice

  • Paul Jones Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    Did the university promise money to people and take it away? Some seem to suggest that. Or, are the upset students just going on the assumption that they would get money without guarantees? That is, they used to get a free ride, but will not now because their grades are poor?

    I fully agree that universities should give money to students who excel. The whole point of higher learning is learning. Those folks should be rewarded, because we want the brightest minds out leading the country forward.

  • Bob Bruck Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    Sounds like a very wise decision- HOWEVER- springing it on students a week before classes start- and TUITION must be paid- is probably a poor management decision. Should have been phased in.

  • Phil Shmoe Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    A great plan - but looks like the transition is the issue based on what's reported here. Cutting off scholarships to current students puts a serious burden on them and their families. This is made worse when this appears to be happening just weeks before a new semester begins. Is the upcoming semester affected? Are students scrambling to find alternative funding?

    This should have been phased in over 4-5 years with changes in funding for incoming new student classes (and the info available in the spring prior to accepting admissions offers).

  • Roy Hinkley Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    The changes did occur at the start of a new term, not during a term.

  • Greg Griffin Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    Academics before athletics? Wow! I am very impressed.

  • David Pilley Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Having food is a life necessity. Going to college is not.

  • Norman Lewis Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    The purpose of a college/university, is to educate their students (Academically). So a change in scholarship money to focus on true academics is not at all something to complain about. However, the students do have a legitimate gripe with the timing of the announcement since they may not have time to plan for the change in financial resources.

  • Marcy Lyn Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    I agree with the scholarship shift, However, it should have been done with NOTICE for those already relying on the scholarships.

    Great that the school is acknowledging and Education and those who work to earn grades.
    The scholarships should have been equal from the beginning.

  • Mannin Black Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    College is for academic learning, not to play games. If someone wants to go to college just to play sports, then maybe there is a need for special sports colleges so they can get a degree in foolsball.