Howard students demanded major changes, starting with adequate housing
The Howard University student body remains entrenched in a protest movement that has persisted throughout the spring semester. Protests, pointed at the school’s administration, began after scandals involving Howard’s leaders became public this year. The school’s housing portal crashed in March, leading some students to believe they would not have housing for the 2018-19 academic year. Shortly after, it was revealed through a series of financial statements that up to $1 million of financial aid funds had gone to university employees between 2007 and 2016.
A 9-day sit-in occupying the campus administration building commenced soon after the funding scandal was publicised. However, student organizer Imani Bryant explained in an interview on The Kojo Nnamdi Show that her social justice organization, HUResist, had been planning strategic protests and demands for some time. She said the funding scandal was a powerful moment, but the students’ discontent had much deeper roots.
Students named Howard’s deteriorating dormitories as a major failure of the administration. The start of the spring semester was delayed one week because campus buildings had no heat, leaving students who returned on time living in freezing dorms. Some classes were moved to Chinatown due to maintenance issues in academic buildings on campus. The university sent a campus-wide alert in February referencing a building “crisis.” The sit-in ended when the Howard University board of trustees made commitments toward addressing seven of the nine student demands, including an assessment of campus housing conditions, the establishment of a community food pantry in Shaw and resources to address sexual assault and harassment.
The unmet demands were for the resignation of Howard President Wayne Frederick and the disarming of campus police.
Housing will now be made available to all students under 21 and the deadline for the fall 2018 housing deposit was extended to to May 1.