“This is proactive negligence on their students,” said Joff, who is also a spokesperson for #BlackburnTakeover. “They’ve got every opportunity to fix these dorms.”
The protest at Howard – one of the most prestigious HBCUs in the country – has been going on for a month now. The sit-ins have attracted national attention with prominent civil rights activists including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. William Barber II and Martin Luther King III publicly supporting the students. Jackson was attempting to mediate the situation earlier this month with students on campus and the Howard administration.
CNN has reached out to Corvias for comment.
While the students say they have yet to meet with the authorities, on November 5, Howard’s president, Wayne AI Friedrich, acknowledged their complaints about the deterioration of the dormitories and said that the university was working to resolve some of the issues. Is.
“It’s an aging campus,” Frederick said during his State of the University address.
Frederick’s office declined an interview with CNN, citing pending litigation.
Howard’s alumnus Vice President Kamala Harris declined to comment through her aides on the controversy at Howard. During the National Action Network’s anniversary awards event, Harris said HBCUs were “critical to the future of our nation” and acknowledged their “historic investment” in the Build Back Better Framework.
‘enough is enough’
NAACP leaders stand in solidarity with the students at Howard.
Wisdom Cole, national director of the NAACP Youth and College Division, said while insufficient funding is a factor in the housing crisis at HBCUs, he questions whether Howard is handing out enough funding for its campus buildings.
“This has been a long-standing issue and it is at a boiling point where students have said enough is enough,” Cole said. “For students who want to stay here, stay here and graduate from here, funds should be allocated appropriately.”
But some students say the housing crisis proves they are not seeing all the benefits of money.
Channing Hill, president of the NAACP student chapter at Howard, said students not only live in aging dorms, but they also do not have access to adequate mental health services and some departments have under-staffed academic advisors.
Hill said an “unimaginable burden” has been placed on the students and Howard must be held accountable.
“Students don’t feel safe in their own rooms,” Hill said. “We are dealing with the wrong allocation (of funds). But we are also dealing with a shortage issue that has everything to do with the fact that HBCUs need funding.”
Rev. Barber said he recently visited Howard’s campus and prayed with student protesters.
He said that students have the right to clean, safe accommodation and the university should be ready to work with the students and address their concerns.
“When I hear the administration doesn’t have a town hall with them, that’s wrong,” Barber said. “These students are just saying ‘we want these hostels to be thoroughly inspected and we want to completely clean them.
‘Funding is the key’
Other HBCU students are expressing similar concerns with their housing conditions.
In mid-October, students from Clark Atlanta, Morehouse and Spelman staged a protest demanding better student housing from their administrators and that lawmakers provide more funding for their schools.
Alivia Duncan, a senior at Clark Atlanta, said students are living in crumbling buildings with old furniture and appliances, water-stained ceiling tiles and mold often seen in dorms.
“Funding is the key to all of this,” Duncan said, adding that it could help build the university and provide more housing. “I’m not saying schools don’t have a responsibility, but with more funding, we’ve been able to make sure that all (dorms) are up to date.”
Martin Luther King III stated that HBCUs are overly cumbersome and under-funded and as a result there remain challenges to the quality of housing. Morehouse alum King said he believes the money in Biden’s spending plan will help schools address some of the problems.
“I don’t think it’s outright negligence,” King said. “Typically, HBCUs never have enough money to do what they need to.”
CNN’s Carolyn Sung, Jasmine Wright and Rosalina Nieves contributed.