- Howard University students continue to demand change from the university as Homecoming week continues.
- The students have occupied a building on campus for eight days and counting.
- The university and the students are working to come to an agreement.
Despite university Homecoming festivities, Howard University student protesters are participating in a sit-in – now on its eighth day – to protest housing conditions. The protest is known as the #BlackburnTakeover on Twitter.
Students are occupying Armour J. Blackburn University Center, which also holds one of the campus cafeterias and several “Punchout” eateries.
A list of demands curated by student organizers is calling on the university to reinstate student, faculty, and alumni representation and voting rights on the Board of Trustees. Students are also calling for a meeting with the administration, including university President Wayne Frederick, to create solutions to housing failures.
Students have documented leaking pipes, collapsed roofs, fungi growth, rodents, and roaches in the campus dorm rooms.
Students have also reported a lack of housing availability, which they say has forced many of them to not return to campus or to fend for themselves in finding off-campus housing.
-ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) October 13, 2021
The university’s historic student-run newspaper, The Hilltop, which Zora Neale Hurston and Louis Eugene King co-founded in 1924 (making it the oldest HBCU newspaper), reported that campus police cut off the building’s WiFi. The university did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Students tweeted that campus police locked the doors to the building, preventing student protestors from entering or leaving.
-BLM. (@Chan_the_world) October 19, 2021
Community organizations in Washington, DC, where Howard is located, such as The Live Movement, Harriet’s Wildest Dream DC, and the Democratic Socialist Association have been proponents of the #BlackburnTakeover on social media.
According to The Black Enterprise, a few of the performers for Howard Homecoming – including Big Scarr, HotBoyWes, and Bic Fizzle – stood in solidarity with students, choosing to attend the sit-in rather than taking part in Homecoming.
A viral video shows a call and response between students: “Who keeps us safe?” Aniyah Vines, the student organizer, said on the microphone. “We keep us safe,” the student protestors responded.
The student organizer in the video asserted that they “are going to be inside of Blackburn TBD until our demands are met.”
-Afeni 🔥 | #SaveSilwan (@ReddIsAri) October 13, 2021
The university has posted its responses on Twitter.
-Howard University (@HowardU) October 13, 2021
“The administration’s goal has always been to listen to the concerns of our students and find a path forward. While we may not always agree, we remain open to dialogue and solutions,” Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Cynthia Evers said after meeting with the students on October 14.
-Howard University (@HowardU) October 14, 2021
A statement from the Howard University Board of Trustees from October 16 said, in part, “Simply put, we hear you and we continue to welcome your viewpoints on all matters pertaining to Howard.”
“The goal is to cultivate spaces for us to listen and discuss prominent issues on students’ minds,” the statement continued.
The sit-in comes approximately three years after a nine-day protest in 2018 during which students occupied the administration building for similar reasons. The students protested concerns about the university’s handling of the sexual assault policy, food insecurity, and armed campus police officers. The Hilltop reported that many of the students’ frustrations are similar to the 2018 protest.
Howard University administration did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.