As an HBCU student, what’s occurring at Howard University seems all too familiar. In this racially charged era where black institutions are respected, HBCU’s all over have experienced an uptake in enrollment. This seems like a great thing and it is. Increased enrollment means more dollars coming into our HBCU’s to address structural issues. However, problems arise when these historically black institutions don’t have the housing needed to accommodate this new wave of students. It leaves currently enrolled students at disadvantage, as they wonder where they’re going to stay the following semester.
Howard University is going through this right now but it isn’t exclusive to them. Most HBCU’s have gone through this over the past year, especially with the new implementation of this Starrez system. I just so happened to be browsing Twitter tonight when I was confronted with a viral tweet showing several Howard students waiting outside of their Residential Life office to discuss housing reservations. They sat for hours, only to find out that the doors to ResLife were locked and the phone lines disconnected. Then, campus police was called.
The students, determined to be heard, took to Twitter to voice their frustrations. This isn’t the first time that this has happened with Howard within the past couple of years. The students are experienced at using social media to mobilize and give themselves a platform to be heard. They created the hashtag #HomelessAtHoward to chronicle the frustrations with how they’re being treated in videos and tweets. They started to tag CNN, Fox News and several other news outlets to magnify their concerns. They even have been contacting celebrities and alumni (and alumni that are celebrities) to draw the ear of the administration.
The “illustrious” Howard University has locked out students from getting information regarding where we’re going to live. I️ pay 45k a year to not know if I️ will have housing for the following semester , and they’re not even willing to speak to us @HowardU @CNN @FoxNews pic.twitter.com/uDdycSsFp4
— Toju ✨ (@tojupessu_) March 7, 2018
Truthfully, I commend the Howard students for their efforts. They, once again, are displaying what we’re taught through experience at HBCU’s. We have to be uncompromising and ready to fight in the face of uncertainty. An injustice is an injustice, no matter who does it. We shouldn’t try to mask the problems we face in an attempt to appeal to some sense of loyalty as black people. We won’t get better if these issues aren’t confronted. For those vilifying students who are complaining about their housing, answer this next question for me. Exactly how are the students supposed to get their issues handled if they don’t use their resources and influence to put pressure on the administration? The actions of these students don’t reek of entitlement at all. In fact, their civicly engaging in a new way.
It is rather crazy to recruit all these new students and not have housing to place them. That’s like inviting someone over to your house to stay but you have nowhere to put them. If your solution is to give them a room that belonged to someone already staying in the house, that’s a problem. Doing a Jedi mind trick and focusing on the supposed “tone” of emails of concerns by the students instead of addressing said concerns is doing nothing but driving a deeper rift between the students and administration.
I sat here and wrote this email calmly while my emotions were ripping me apart inside. But this is what I got. I am borderline homeless but I’m so sorry my tone was slightly off. pic.twitter.com/aOC9RZMNAu
— Kendal Hall (@kendalalise5) March 7, 2018
A college is nothing without its tuition paying students. An HBCU can’t truly be competitive with a PWI or PWB institution if student needs aren’t heard and campus life isn’t taken into account when it comes to retention. I see plenty of students from Howard hurt and frustrated at this process. I see plenty of my fellow HBCU peers in the nation’s capital advocating that incoming freshman class of 2022 not come because of the issue at hand.
Thread: I’ve been made aware that @HowardU is content to see their students be homeless bcuz they prefer to lease off two dorms to be turned into luxury apartments at the hands of gentrifiers.
— Dominique Christina (@nyarloka) March 8, 2018
Howard is the flagship HBCU; the Harvard of black institutions. What occurs in this new battle between students and administration will have ripple effects around the black college world. I’m tuned in and fully support the efforts of my brothers and sisters at Howard University and yield my platform to any of them that want to confront this issue.