Howard University’s Historic Sit-In Comes to an End

Howard University student protestors reached an agreement with the administration on Friday, April 6, 2018, which ended their nine-day sit-in, according to a press conference…

Howard University student protestors reached an agreement with the administration on Friday, April 6, 2018, which ended their nine-day sit-in, according to a press conference held by the Board of Trustees. The occupation of the Mordecai Wyatt Administration Building was in response to allegations of embezzlement in the school’s financial aid office.

“Through these interviews the University determined that six employees demonstrated egregious violations of their responsibility as stewards of University resources and were terminated,” said President Wayne A. I. Frederick in a letter to the Howard community on April 9. The president’s statement also said that these individuals received approximately $90,000 in Tuition Remission and $279,000 in University Grants resulting in credit balances that were distributed as refunds, which is where the extra funds came from.

“Medium,” an online news outlet, published an article shedding light on these rumors which gained increased media attention. The article was quickly taken down as the university confirmed the rumors in a press release.

On March 29 members of HU Resist, a student activist organization on campus, along with other student leaders occupied the administration building and prohibited access to anyone other than Howard students with their HU ID.

As the demonstration gained more attention hundreds of people sent supplies, food and water, and money to HU Resist in solidarity with the students. Throughout the nine-day occupation students continuously met with members of the Board of Trustees in order to negotiate demands. On April 1st, 26 Howard faculty members sent a letter to the students occupying the administration building voicing their support. Many of those professors teach in the economics department.

Per a press release tweeted by HU Resist on March 25, protestors had nine demands.

The demands were as follows:

  • Provide adequate housing for all students under the age of 21 and extend the Fall 2018 housing deposit deadline to May 1
  • An immediate end to unsubstantiated tuition hikes and complete access to administrative salaries
  • Actively fight rape culture on campus in an effort to prevent sexual assault
  • Implement a grievance system to hold faculty and administrators accountable in their language and actions toward students with marginalized identities
  • Hire more counselors and implement an inclusive attendance policy that accounts for mental and emotional health issues
  • The immediate disarming of campus police officers and the formation of a Police Oversight Committee controlled by students, faculty, staff, and off-campus community representatives
  • Allocate more resources toward combating food insecurity and gentrification within the LeDroit-Shaw community
  • The immediate resignation of President Wayne A.I. Frederick and the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees
  • Giving students the power to democratically influence the decisions of the administration and the Board of Trustees by way of popular vote

At the end of negotiations all demands were met, except the resignation of the president and executive committee.  Many students believe that this sit-in was a build-up of rising tension between the students and administration, dating all the way back to President Frederick’s announcement of James Comey as the 2017-2018 Convocation speaker.

By: Almaz Abedje

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