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Editorial: Commencement’s shortcoming

Editorial: Commencement’s shortcoming
May 23
00:00 2014

Meteorologists are likely attributing the Jekyll and Hyde variance between last Thursday and last Friday’s weather to some sort of pressure system.

We think that the ultimate weatherman – the Man upstairs – saw fit to lift the clouds and pour in the sunshine so that Winston-Salem State’s momentous commencement would go as planned, without a hitch.

For the first time, the school held commencement at Bowman Gray Stadium, which has long been considered a part of the ever-growing WSSU campus. The site was awe-inspiring; the more than 1,000 graduates beamed even brighter under sunlight as their families and friends packed the stands (the way we wish the community would for Rams’ home football games). There was plenty of space for everyone, unlike the past few commencements at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, when space became so limited that graduates – to their chagrin – were allotted a limited number of tickets for guests.

There is one thing that would have made the day even more special. WSSU is still a Bowman Gray lease-holder, more than a year after the city agreed to sell the stadium to the university. Certainly, the school had anticipated that it would hold the deed to the stadium when plans were put into place to hold last week’s landmark commencement there.

City and school officials say the State is holding up the deal. We can thank Forsyth County’s very own Dale Folwell for much of the delay. He has not tried to hide his distain of the sale, and as a Speaker Pro Tempore in the N.C. House, he worked to derail it. He’s now the head of the state’s Employment Security division, a position with regular access to the people – the governor among them – who must green-light the stadium sale.

It’s too bad that such an important decision for the school has to be made in Raleigh at this time. This long season of mean-spiritedness, spitefulness and political recalcitrance has already claimed a long list of victims.

Lawmakers, Gov. McCrory and his cabinet don’t want their borderline-bigoted constituents to hear of them doing anything remotely close to helping a black school. Many also don’t believe an HBCU deserves a stadium of its own – especially not a $6 million one. Some will argue that the fact that WSSU is a historically black school has little to do with the hold up, but we find it hard believe that lawmakers would keep UNCG or App State hanging by a string for such a long period of time.

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