Howard students under HBCU funding investigation say they live with mold, roach and mice infestation


Sophistication said it reported the mold issue to a residential consultant in September, but it was never addressed. So in October, she decided, along with other students facing similar living conditions in their dorms, to sleep in tents and air mattresses at the university’s Blackburn Center. protested and demanded that the authorities address their concerns, Some have also complained about flooding, roach and rat infestations, and non-working WiFi in its hostels at the Historically Black University in Washington, DC.

“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.”

Student activists and civil rights leaders say the controversy is indicative of a wider issue, with crumbling buildings on centuries-old HBCU campuses less frequent than those on predominantly white institutions. The Howard protest has received support from students from other historically black colleges, including Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse and Spelman. Atlanta-based schools organized a joint protest last month Against poor living conditions and lack of housing on their own premises.

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.

Student protesters have demanded a meeting or town hall with university officials and a comprehensive plan for them to fix building issues and be more transparent. more than 4,500 people signed a petition Howard to Corvias Inc. To cancel its contract with the Corporation, which maintains and operates the residential buildings in the Corporation premises.

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.

Some black leaders say the outrage should signal to lawmakers that the government needs to prioritize funding for HBCUs. According to the Brookings InstitutionHBCUs are few and far between because of low alumni contributions as a result of the state’s low investment, low endowments, and low black income. NS US Government Accountability Office reports that HBCUs have an average endowment per student of $15,000, compared to $410,000 in non-HBCUs.
President Joe Biden’s spending plan in Build Back Better Act HBCUs include $2 billion for educational programs and infrastructure.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Hope the House will pass the law by Thanksgiving. The bill will then go to the Senate.

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.”

High-profile celebrities and celebrities such as Sean “Diddy” Combs and alumni Eddie C. Brown and C. Sylvia Browne The million-dollar donation to the university has made headlines.

But some students say the housing crisis proves they are not seeing all the benefits of money.

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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.

Duncan said there is also a housing shortage at the university. In August, some Clark freshmen arrived on campus to learn that their hostel was still undergoing renovation. NS the university was reportedly To place those students in off-campus housing.
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“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.