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Howard University Students Protest Living Conditions At Dorms On Campus

Source: Drew Angerer / Getty

 

The Blackburn Takeover Sit-In Protest is still ongoing at Howard University. Some students complained that their housing conditions have gotten significantly worse since the protest began in September. They are now demanding a face-to-face meeting with the university’s president Wayne A.I. Fredrick to address and create a plan to tackle the campus’ housing crisis. In recent, weeks students have complained about flooding in their rooms and a roach and mice infestation. CNN noted that some students do not have access to Wifi in their dorms.

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Jasmine Joof, a sophomore at Howard, told the outlet that she has become “sick with congestion, coughing, and headaches” for weeks after discovering mold growing in her dorm. She reported the issue to her campus RA in September, but her cries have fallen on deaf ears. Joof, who is also a spokeswoman for the protest, is among the many students sleeping outside the university’s Blackburn Center in a tent demanding for the Historically Black College and University in Washington, D.C. to take accountability.

“It’s active negligence to their students,” Joof said, adding, “They have had every opportunity to fix these dorms.” Students say that the campus’ crumbling infrastructure might be to blame for housing conditions deteriorating. A petition has since been launched by students urging for Howard to break its contract with Corvias Inc., the same company that maintains the campus’ buildings. Howard’s president has not commented publically about the situation citing that he along with other school officials were working to address the ongoing problem. “This is an aging campus,” Frederick said during his state of the university address.

Funding is a key component to solving some of the campus’ structural issues, but HBCU’s have taken a massive hit over the years with many schools being underfunded due to lower investments from state-funded programs and a lower aggregation of assets invested into the school typically referred to as endowments. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, have an average endowment of  “$15,000 per student compared to $410,000 at non-HBCUs.”

Biden’s Build Back Better Act plans to include $2 billion to service educational programs and infrastructure at HBCUs, but until then schools like Howard must struggle to maintain campus conditions.

“Students do not feel safe in their own rooms,” Channing Hill, the president of the NAACP student chapter at Howard told CNN.  “We are dealing with misallocation (of funds). But we’re also dealing with a scarcity issue that has everything to do with the fact that HBCUs need funding.”

 

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