‘A bad day to be a panther’: Students react to BSC’s closure

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Jamie Archer, Kennedy Thomas, Maria Albarran, Sofia Villanueva, and Ana Bravo are all saddened by Birmingham-Southern College’s impending closure. (Kelsey Shelton/WBHM; Contributed photos by Jamie Archer and Kennedy Thomas)

On Tuesday, March 26  at 1 p.m., Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) students were notified in an email the school would be closing on May 31st due to financial troubles. Last year, the school applied for a loan from the state under a program for distressed institutions, but was denied by Young Boozer, the state treasurer. A bill that would revamp the program, giving BSC another shot, appears dead for this legislative session.

The news came while students were on spring break. Many students found out while on vacation with family and friends. Jamie Archer, a senior at BSC, documented her experience learning about the closure in a TikTok that has accumulated over 1 million views.

@jam_.jam__ a bad day to be a panther. rip bsc. #fyp #college #senioryear #lastspringbreak #beach ♬ Rivers and Roads – The Head And The Heart

How are students feeling following this news? Here’s what a few BSC students had to say:

‘I read in the bold letters: closure for May 31st’

I got an email during spring break, and then I read in the bold letters “closure for May 31st.” I started sobbing for about seven hours straight after the news. I was sad, but I also was angry. But I understand where they’re coming from. 

They could have given thought to the students, like close off admissions. Because I know there were a lot of high schoolers fully committed to coming to BSC, and I know that process for them surely is really stressful because now they have to go through applying to colleges all over again.

I’m just trying to transfer. I’m trying to go to Samford or a college in Charlotte. I’m really looking for something close knit, like BSC, because I’ve gotten used to it, and I’m not sure a big college would really suit me.

—  Sofia Villanueva, Freshman

‘It only goes to show how much the state of Alabama cares so little about education’

I actually got the news from one of my sorority sisters and our group chat that we use to plan events and such. She said the school was closing, and not long after that I got the email. I thought she was joking. The school did keep us updated, but I felt like it was very limited, like there were a lot of things going on behind the scenes that we weren’t aware of. So, I wasn’t exactly sure about what our standing with the school was. 

There’s a lot of arguments and opposing views out there, like, “Oh, we shouldn’t use taxpayer money to bail out a private college.” But, I don’t think they fully understand the gravity of the situation and the position that we’re being put in by the school closing. One, we’re losing a large piece of history for the city of Birmingham and Alabama as a whole. 

And it only goes to show how much the state of Alabama cares so little about education. We’re quick to open another prison, but to save an institution of higher learning is where we draw the line. And this issue has been evident in public schools, but is starting to appear more in higher education as well. And I feel like, this closure of BSC will be kind of like a warning to what will happen if we don’t turn it around, basically.

— Kennedy Thomas, Sophomore

‘It’s pretty hard starting over again’

It’s a bit hard as an international student. Just looking at my options. Seeing what’s closer to BSC. It’s pretty hard to start over again. Getting comfortable again. BSC is giving a lot of options to a lot of students, and you really feel comfortable with them because they’re really there for you and giving all the support. You’re not really doing it all alone like you would if you were in high school. 

Honestly, they should have thought about what the students would go through if it would have happened. A lot of people just look at it from the outside, and they don’t really think about what the students feel and how this is really our home away from home. They could have thought about that.

— Maria Albarran, Freshman

‘I’m very thankful that I’m a senior, and that I get to graduate’

I’m very thankful that I’m a senior, and that I get to graduate. My significant other is a junior. Majority of my friend groups are also juniors, and they kind of have the worst seat in the boat in all of this. When they transfer, they’ll probably have to do two more years instead of the one year here at BSC, which financially is a big decision. Because we are a liberal arts school, and so a lot of the people that are here won’t be able to transfer all of their credits completely. 

I’m interested to see how this next week plays out. We have some stuff going on this weekend that I think will uplift us. And I think our, our student advisories and everyone that works at BSC, student, faculty and staff are really working their butts off to make campus as normal as possible. Like, I have a test on Wednesday – what? And so it’s just kind of like I think they’re trying to keep us in this normal state of everything’s fine.

But I think it’s even more sad that I can’t even come back here for homecoming or for any alumni things. Like, right now I’m about to go to the bookstore and buy about 30 sweatshirts just because I know, I know they won’t be for sale after this year. And I saw there were a lot of old couples, alumni that came down here to buy stuff today as well. It’s just so sad. It’s so bittersweet. But what can you do? 

— Jamie Archer, Senior

‘I just feel like they could’ve told us sooner instead of basing our year off of hope’

I found out through Instagram. I opened Instagram and I just saw a picture of one of our buildings and the caption says BSC closing May 31st. I feel like as soon as I opened that, a bunch of messages kind of just started flooding in; people asking me “are you okay?” I feel like that kind of hit me hard.

My sorority sisters were also very upset. But we’re still going to do all of our events because even though we might not be able to fundraise that much money for our philanthropy events and stuff, we still want to spend as much time as we can with each other and talk about where we’re going to go and if we’re going to visit each other. 

I wish they would have decided sooner. I don’t really like that they gave us all of these high hopes. I thought that I was going to graduate from BSC. I just feel like they could’ve told us sooner instead of basing our year off of hope.

— Ana Bravo, Freshman

‘Birmingham-Southern really instills a love for the community’

Birmingham-Southern is the college I wanted to go to because my parents went here. The liberal arts education has allowed me to experiment in so many different disciplines, and has really shaped me and my parents into who we are today. 

And, Birmingham-Southern really instills a love for the community and being part of service. And so I’m very involved in the Bush Hills and College Hills community right now. So my next steps are very much thinking about the community around me and trying to stay involved.

I’m a tap dancer. I direct a tap Nutcracker every year. And we hold it at Samford University. I have 80 dancers that perform in it. And, last year, I received a scholarship from Birmingham-Southern, $500. And I bought 20 dancers in the Bush Hills community tap shoes and costumes to be able to participate. So I just have a love for the community because of Birmingham-Southern instilling that in me. 

— Cheryl Kaye Marshall, Sophomore

 

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