Kinsey rallies to protect legacy of Cheyney University

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 1 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., today joined students and activists to demand that Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education step in and save Cheyney University.

Cheyney University, founded in 1837, is the nation’s first institution of higher learning for African Americans. The university faces financial struggles as funding has gone down and tuition has gone up. Since 2010, its enrollment has dropped by 50 percent from over 1,500 students to an estimated 746. If a solution is not formulated by Sept. 1, the university could lose its accreditation.

“Each of us are here today because we have an obligation to fulfil: to save Cheyney University,” Kinsey said. “I am proud to stand here with my colleagues and friends as we demand that Cheyney receive fair and equitable funding. Cheyney University is our school, our system, and our responsibility. It’s up to us to save it.”

While recent state budget conversations have been focused on securing funding for the Commonwealth’s state-related universities, Kinsey says legislators should focus on the 14 universities Pennsylvania actually owns. Since 2013, Cheyney University has had to borrow over $30.5 billion to stay solvent. If the university loses its accreditation, students would no longer be eligible for federal aid. Kinsey said this would be particularly devastating since nearly three-quarters of students are from low-income households and qualify for Pell Grants.

“Cheyney University is more than just a place of learning,” Kinsey said. “It represents the struggle of being Black in America: fighting to be recognized, speaking up to be supported, and a never ending struggle to be treated equally. Our ancestors selflessly fought to secure the freedoms we have today. It’s time we did the same for this generation.”