U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) announced the award of $500,000 in federal money to the financially struggling Birmingham-Southern College earlier this week for “experiential learning and civic engagement student initiatives” the school and suggested that lawmakers should use public funds to bail out the private university.

Birmingham-Southern is a private, Methodist-affiliated university. At the end of last year, the university required a $37.5 million bailout from local, state and federal taxpayers. The bailout also garnered the support of State Sen. Jabo Wagoner (R-Vestvia Hills) and State Rep. Jim Carns (R-Vestavia Hills).

The university requested $12.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds and $17.5 million from the state education fund. He also requested a contribution of $5 million from the Birmingham City Council and $2.5 million from the Jefferson County Commission (JCC).

Sewell turned the money over to BSC president Daniel Coleman on Wednesday. She said the funds would help win internships and jobs for students.

Sewell also reportedly supported the bailout of the university. She told the press that Alabama could not afford to lose BSC.

JCC President Jimmie Stephens warned 1819 News last year that bailing out a private university could be a “slippery slope.”

In January, BSC officials asked alumni to lobby state and local elected officials for a $37.5 million bailout from the government.

However, earlier this month, state Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) said it was not likely that the state would seek a bailout for the university.

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