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The House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing Thursday about the series of bomb threats received by historically Black colleges and universities this year.

Several HBCU student leaders told lawmakers of the fear and anxiety felt by students, faculty and staff members on their campuses and the value of an HBCU education.

“These institutions yield a societal impact that simply cannot be quantified,” said Kylie Burke, president of the Student Association at Howard University. “So when bigoted, cowardice actors began to issue violent bomb threats to Howard University and dozens of HBCUs at the start of 2022, it was clear that their intentions were to dismantle sacred pinnacles of Black excellence.”

Representatives of the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office for Bombing Prevention at the Department of Homeland Security also fielded questions from policy makers about their agencies’ responses to the threats.

Ryan T. Young, executive assistant director of the intelligence branch of the FBI, said investigating the threats was the “highest priority.”

Trainings in bomb threat management have also been made available to HBCU leaders, according to Sean Haglund, associate director of the Office for Bombing Prevention.

Michelle Asha Cooper, acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the Education Department, highlighted that HBCUs can apply for funds for needs related to the threats through the Project School Emergency Response to Violence program, or Project SERV, announced by Vice President Kamala Harris Wednesday.

“We at the department condemn these acts and believe these and other forms of violence have absolutely no place in our educational institutions,” Cooper said.