Hundreds of students at Howard University have been protesting on campus over housing conditions and a lack of representation on the school’s board of trustees, WTOP reports.
At the Blackburn University Center, students gathered at the school’s Northwest D.C. campus on Tuesday and are refusing to leave until school administrators address demands for an in-person town hall with Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick, the reinstating of affiliate trustee positions with voting power, and a meeting with student leadership on future housing plans.
Other issues that led to the protest included “the cost of tuition (and) corona preparedness,” according to one anonymous student who was a part of the protests.
In a video shared on Twitter, Aniyah Vines, the founder of The Live Movement and a senior at Howard, addressed the crowd from the roof of a building.
“We are not here just to go to class,” Vines said. “We are here to be leaders. We are here to be advocates. We are here to be change-makers.”
Vines, in an interview with WUSA 9, expressed why she felt compelled to lead the demonstrations.
“This is really just making sure that we’re united, we’re united as Bison, but also as HBCU students,” she said over a Zoom video call. “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.”
Student housing is one of the major points of contention that led to the protests.
“Students have been facing a lot of issues on campus, everything from housing to tuition increases to safety issues on campus, and we feel as though the administration is not listening to us,” Erica England, a senior with the HU Young Democratic Socialists of America noted.
One student posted the condition of his room and the video went viral on Twitter.
bro they’re refusing to relocate us from our dorm even though it’s flooding and i already slipped and fell today 😵💫 pic.twitter.com/fJkBG7hqZf
— thandi (@pyarkarda) September 23, 2021
“We first started noticing water on the floor, I think, two weeks ago. We didn’t understand where it was coming from because there was no visible damage to the wall. So, that happened in our closet and in our room area,” Abdullah said back in September.
The current demonstrations have been the first since the sit-in protest in 2018, NPR reported. During that protest, student group HU Resist demanded that the university allow student representation on the board of trustees. Eventually, the Howard administrators relented, permitting an affiliate representative on the board, and the sit-in ended after nine days.
Dr. Laurence Morse, Chair of the Board, announced they would be phasing out the affiliate trustee position in a video announcement a few months ago.
School officials have not yet commented on the ongoing protest.