Darton State College. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Now that it has a four year nursing program, it appears that the former Albany Junior College has moved up in the world indeed. Most of the people I’ve talked to are thrilled with the Board of Regents’ decision to allow Darton to offer a BSN program. However, a few are upset.
You see, for some people, Darton being able to offer the program is a slap in Albany State University’s face. A group of historically black colleges and universities threatened to sue if the Regents voted to permit Darton to offer the program, saying that “white” schools aren’t allowed to offer duplicate programs to “black” schools.
The fear is that white students won’t want to seek admission at Albany State if they can go to Darton. While that may be true, there are some factors that Albany State’s supporters seem to be missing. These points are rather important.
To start with, there’s a nursing shortage. In this area, we need as many nurses as we can crank out. Since nursing programs can only handle so many people, there will be plenty of opportunity for both schools to have as many students as they can handle … provided they’re offering the students a quality education. That actually ties into my next point.
You see, ASU’s nursing program has a reputation in this area, and it’s not a good one. It has nothing to do with skin color and everything to do with passing certification exams. Up until recently, ASU graduates were having difficulties that Darton graduates simply weren’t. What did people take from that? They took it to mean you got a better education at Darton than you did at Albany State.
Next, let’s look at the concern about white students attending ASU. It’s a real concern for Albany State, because it’s quite true that white students in the area tend to try and seek a four-year education outside of Albany rather than attend ASU. For some, this is a sign of lingering racism. However, after talking with some ASU graduates – white graduates, you see – I can’t help but wonder if it’s something else.
You see, while some white students are perfectly happy at Albany State, many mentioned to me a feeling of being unwelcome on the ASU campus. They felt that many would be happier if they had attended school somewhere else. There weren’t overt comments, just snide remarks, dirty looks, and other things that set them on edge.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s entirely possible that these reports were the result of an overactive imagination. However, they are still real. The question then becomes, “What is ASU doing to reach out to white students?”
The idea of blocking an institution from offering a new program is hardly groundbreaking, and it would hardly have encouraged more white students to seek their nursing education at Albany State University. Instead, many of those students would have left Albany to attend school in Americus.
Personally, I can’t help but believe that Darton getting a nursing program is a win for the community. The absolute worst thing that can happen is Darton’s program kills Albany State’s. That would free up Albany State resources to offer a program that’s not offered in the region. If that’s the worst thing that can happen, then we’re actually ahead of the game.
Of course, I don’t think that will happen. Instead, I think you’ll see a lot more nurses with their BSN versus their two year degrees. Tell me again, how is that a bad thing?
Written by Tom Knighton. Tom Knighton is the managing editor of Laws-n-Sausages.com, a political blog focusing on SWGA. He is the former co-owners of SWGAPolitics.com and currently serves as the Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Southwest Georgia