Howard University students are protesting on campus over poor housing conditions, student safety and a lack of representation on the school’s board of trustees.
Students gathered at the Blackburn University Center on the school’s Northwest D.C. campus during lunch on Tuesday, WTOP reports, refusing to leave until school administrators respond to the requests for a meeting with student leadership on future housing plans, an in-person town hall forum with Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick, and the reinstatement of affiliate trustee positions with voting power.
The other issues that led to Tuesday’s protests included “tuition (and) corona preparedness,” according to an anonymous student, who asked to remain unidentified, fearing discipline from the University.
According to Ebony, Howard senior Aniyah Vines, founder of The Live Movement, addressed the crowd from one of the school’s rooftops in a video shared on Twitter.
“We are not here just to go to class,” Vines stated. “We are here to be leaders. We are here to be advocates. We are here to be change-makers.”
Vines also spoke with WUSA 9 to explain why she led the demonstrations at the university.
“This is really just making sure that we’re united, we’re united as Bison, but also as HBCU students,” Vines told WUSA 9. “We are in buildings that were taken up by great people. Our alumni. We have a long list of people, so we would be doing them a disservice if we did not take a stand.”
According to WTOP, the protest remains peaceful and nonviolent:
When a WTOP reporter showed up on campus, police ordered them to leave. But early Wednesday, the demonstration was peaceful, with students occupying the hallway in a quiet manner while three campus officers gathered in the building’s entranceway.
People leaving the demonstration were not being allowed back in.
“President Frederick, I would just like to ask for you to hear us, hear our voices, respect our opinions,” a student said, adding school leaders should not be surprised it came to this.
“We have frequently voiced our displeasure. We have frequently asked for our voices to be heard. This is the culmination of the frustration of the unheard.”
Dr. Cynthia Evers, vice president of student affairs at Howard, issued a statement saying that some of the students participating in the demonstrations would be asked to meet with the school’s judicial affairs committee to discuss student code of conduct violations, WTOP reports.
The school’s housing issues angered students and compelled many of them to speak out. One student posted a video on Twitter in September, highlighting the poor condition of her living space.
According to WTOP, the school said that any students who reported flooding or mold in dormitories could relocate temporarily or permanently and spoke of holding the parties responsible for maintaining the upkeep of those residences accountable.
The university made the decision to eliminate the affiliate trustee positions—which had been held by students, faculty and alumni—a few months ago in a video announcement.
Howard University officials have yet to comment on the ongoing demonstrations.