Although there has been a 30 percent rise in the number of students applying to HBCUs, there are still challenging experiences at the institutions that remain, such as the majority of them being broadband deserts. Smith has emphasized that HBCUs need to not ask but demand broadband.
“The institutions cultivate and curate an environment that enables our people to be successful as leaders, business people, engineers, doctors, critical thinkers, poets,” he said about what HBCUs produce. “All that’s important. So HBCUs provide that function.”
He continued: “What we need to do is enable those HBCUs more effectively through bringing more resources, most important of which today is broadband. Still where 82 percent of HBCUs live are in broadband deserts. That cannot stand. That is something that we need to make sure that our HBCUs and our community demand of not only the federal government but other companies that can enable all of our students to have access to broadband immediately, not five years from now.”