Jackson State University's president, Ronald Mason Jr., has received considerable public criticism for his idea of merging the state's three public, historically black universities into one. But a review by The Jackson Clarion-Ledger of e-mail to and from Mason about the idea shows that some in the state who have not spoken in favor of the plan were either supportive in private or at least open to considering the ideas. The e-mail messages also include some tough criticism and some of Mason's frustrations about the difficulty of talking about these issues. "If I can't have private conversations with members of the Black Caucus about the future of HBCUs without them trying to get me fired, then who am I supposed to talk to?" he said in one e-mail.