By Katelynn White
Karine Jean Pierre recently made history as the first African American woman in 30 years to host the daily White House press briefings. She fills the Principal Deputy Press Secretary position for the Biden-Harris Administration office.
On Sept. 10, Pierre gave students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities an opportunity to virtually attend the White House briefing. She invited HBCU student journalists to a private news briefing to conclude National HBCU week. A total of 20 students represented their colleges and universities.
Pierre took as many questions as she could during the 30 minutes timeframe. As she opened the briefing, she informed students about the White House commitment to continuous support of the ongoing growth of Black colleges and universities,
“This administration has already committed more than $4 billion in support of HBCUs. On Sept. 3, the President signed a proclamation to acknowledge September 5 through 11 as national HBCU week.”
Pierre shined light on the housing issue Black colleges and universities have had after Darreonna Davis, a student journalist from Howard University asked to what extent is there likely to be a grant specifically dedicated towards housing infrastructure at HBCUs.
“The build back better plan, which is something that the President is working towards. His agenda would provide free community college tuition to students at public community colleges, including 11 HBCUs. The President is proposing a nearly $1,500 increase in Pell grants, down payment on doubling Pell.
“According to UNCF, 70 percent of students at HBCUs are Pell-eligible so the build back better plan, the agenda that he’s working with working on right now with congressional members this plan proposes historic investments in the RD infrastructure of HBCUs, TCUS, MSIUS.”
Jean-Pierre discussed a plan that the President is working on to help increase funds for Black colleges and universities while going more in-depth on what is being done to help student housing.
“The department of ED discharged over a billion dollars of HBCU debt for institutions moving major capital improvements for example dormitories,” said Jean-Pierre.
She discussed the administration’s plan was for directly targeting HBCU student loan debt and how the administration would sustain programs that were specifically started to benefit students that attended Black colleges.
Jean-Pierre said, “HBCUs have received close to 4 billion dollars in funding from the Biden-Harris administration, part of that funding has been used by institutions to cancel the debt that students had on their accounts.” She also adds that “1.6 billion dollars in capital improvement loan forgiveness for HBCUs” assisted HBCU’s with facility expenses and the overall financial health of the institution.
Before closing, she focused on mental health and suicide and told the student journalists that President Biden has signed a proclamation on suicide prevention. According to Jean-Pierre, Biden has proposed 180 billion dollars to fund suicide prevention programs at the department of health and human services substance abuse and mental health services administration.
Jean-Pierre also discussed during the 30 minutes President Biden’s effort to help historically black colleges and universities succeed.