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Going into their second week of sit-ins, students at Howard University in Washington, D.C., are continuing to fight for answers from the campus administration as they protest the school’s poor housing conditions.
A top Howard official says the school has worked with student leaders to “provide a best-in-class university experience.”
More than 150 students with the group Live Movement, an organization advocating for education reform and academic advancement, began protesting at the school’s Blackburn University Center on Oct. 12.
Protesters at Howard, one of the nation’s top historically black colleges, are demanding an in-person town hall with university President Wayne A.I. Frederick by the end of the month to address concerns about housing and student life.
Students who are protesting say they will not leave the building until campus officials agree to discuss their list of demands.
Since the start of the fall semester, students say they’ve raised concerns regarding mold in the walls of their dorms, the lack of COVID-19 testing for students and the overall safety on campus, according to DCist/WAMU.
As of last month, mold has been discovered in 34 rooms on campus, according to local news station WJLA-TV. There are roughly 2,700 rooms on Howard’s campus.
“There really doesn’t seem like there is a plan of action,” freshman Kaedriana Turenne said in an interview with WJLA.
Turenne said that given her issues with on-campus housing, she’s considering transferring from Howard after completing her first year, saying the campus “doesn’t live up to the expectation” she had prior to moving in.
In a statement on Twitter last week, Cynthia Evers, vice president of student affairs, said the well-being of students is always “one of our top concerns.” Evers said university leadership has collaborated with student leaders to address their concerns “and continue to provide a best-in-class university experience.”
Howard’s board of trustees also responded to the campus protests last week, saying, “Simply put, we hear you and we continue to welcome your viewpoints on all matters pertaining to Howard.”
The board says it recognizes where the issues on campus exist and is working to fix them.
“This sit-in reinforces the fact that hearing from a much wider group of students on a constant basis is not only necessary but critical,” the board said.
News of the protests sparked outrage on Twitter, as the school is celebrating its homecoming festivities this week.
This Howard University issue is really leaving me speechless….like….there’s so much that can happen to ppl being exposed to mold! Like wtf
— Rudy (@justmonty) October 23, 2021
I cannot believe that Howard tweeted this as if there are not Black students sleeping on the concrete to demand university housing that is free of mold RIGHT NOW https://t.co/ZRWnb4mRhP
— derecka (@dereckapurnell) October 20, 2021
In 2018, students led a nine-day occupation of the campus administration building after university officials and students reached an agreement on several campus changes.
The changes included a revision of the school’s sexual assault policy, the creation of a campus food bank and a review of policies allowing campus police officers to carry weapons.