The future of Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) remains uncertain, but State Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) believes there’s "light at the end of the tunnel" for the financially struggling school.
On Wednesday, Givan appeared on “Capitol Journal” to discuss her efforts to help save BSC and where things are currently at in the process.
“It’s been a tough road for some philosophical purposes and reasons as well as others,” Givan said. “And so I’m thankful at this point right now it looks like there may be a little light at the end of the tunnel.”
Late last year, the private Methodist-affiliated college requested a $37.5 million bailout from local, state and federal governments. However, Givan said she told the college “an outright gift of $37 million from the state of Alabama wasn’t going to happen.”
“Where we are now is that we’re looking at the construct of legislation that will create a loan incentive program here in the state of Alabama,” she said. “So Birmingham-Southern, as well as other institutions at some period, would be able to submit a request or application for funds that will be there for the purpose of assisting them through this crisis period.”
Giving public funds to a private institution was a major concern among Republican and even Democrat lawmakers, Givan said, while some took issue with the possible “racial undertones” of helping BCS and not other colleges.
“There’s just some individuals who have problems and take issue with giving public dollars to a private institution of any sort,” Givan said. "You hear issues of racial undertones because this is considered a white institution, although they do have black and minority students on campus. But it's considered 'the Birmingham-Southern,' whereas you have Miles College that sits only less than six miles away… And you have other state institutions that have faced the possibility of closure and had financial difficulties, but the state did nothing to help them."
"I had to get beyond the public/private issue," she continued. "That argument goes out the window, especially with regard to the supplemental plan that is coming back to us. There are clearly identified in that package line items that are for private purposes. So that was a saving grace for Birmingham-Southern."
Givan said one of the main reasons she's been pushing to save Birmingham-Southern is the negative impact it could have on the surrounding community if it closed.
"It would be devastating," she said. "So, for me, I had to look beyond the public. I had to look beyond the private."
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