It’s really disheartening to hear what’s going on at Howard University.
As a proud alumnus of Hampton, my school has always had a competitive rivalry with Howard—the “other” HU, as we would sarcastically call them. Regardless of the relationship between us, my support goes out to the affected students at Howard as they enter the second week of sit-ins at the Blackburn University Center.
According to Fox5 , Howard students are standing firm in their demands to school officials to fix the issues of the terrible housing situation on campus. Some students say their rooms contain mold, rats and roaches, while others have experienced flooding and more.
The #BlackburnTakeover sit-in started last week, with over 150 students protesting the school’s living conditions. Some students have even resorted to sleeping in tents, y’all.
Attending a HBCU is supposed to be a transformative experience with memories that last a lifetime. Parties, fraternity and sorority life, connecting with beautiful black people from all walks of life…you know, movie shit. Having to deal with an almost unlivable dorm room should not be a part of the college experience, especially at Howard.
“It is not a normal college experience to be living with mold and having respiratory issues and safety hazards in our living spaces,” Howard sophomore Thandiwe Abdullah told Fox5.
The students who have had issues with rats, roaches and mold say that workers have come to clean their rooms, but the conditions still haven’t changed much.
According to Fox5, one student said, “after they left, I noticed the mold grew back again this morning and they never cleaned out the mold in the AC and I can’t even live in there anymore.”
To ensure students that the school is listening their demands, the Board of Trustees said in a statement:
“Simply put, we hear you and we continue to welcome your viewpoints on all matters pertaining to Howard.”
Students feel their demands are falling on deaf ears. As The Root previously reported, students requested an in-person town hall with university president Wayne A.I. Frederick; a meeting between Howard administrators and student leadership on future housing plans; and and the reinstatement of affiliate trustee positions with voting power.
The protests at Howard have been nonviolent. Students simply want a comfortable college experience; nothing more, nothing less. Yet even with them playing it by the book, some students claim that their efforts to incite change have been met with aggression from school authorities.
“Most of the response has been very hostile,” Abdullah told FOX 5. “I was met with police, I was met with public affairs, the principal’s office—they told me I was making the value of the Howard degree go down. I’m in debt to be here and we are living in what I would say are dilapidated dorms.”
More on the students’ claims from Fox5:
Despite threats of expulsion and suspension, students say they’ll do whatever it takes to address what they say is decades of negligence towards living conditions at the university.
“We’re not leaving until our four demands are met. There’s no compromise,” one student says. “No school wants to be protested against, but it’s not like we are out here because we want hot tubs in our dormitories; it’s because we want livable conditions.”
The protests continued into Howard’s nationally known Homecoming week. This year’s homecoming was especially important because it is the first year many HBCUs are holding an in-person celebration since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
According to The Hill, Gucci Mane was slated to perform at Howard for their homecoming this year but canceled his set in support of the protests at Blackburn University Center. Gucci’s manager posted his support of the students on Instagram.
“We’re still here! Students you are the revolution,” Gucci’s manager captioned in his IG story. “We are the revolution. This is not okay.”
Hopefully this situation changes for the better, so the students can go back to being students. Howard, you will always have my support, as do all HBCUs. We have to be in this together.