Howard University students returned to classes in dorm basements, gyms, medical research buildings and the campus shopping center Tuesday after burst pipes and heating issues delayed the school’s spring semester for more than a week.
Three academic buildings, Annex I, Annex II and the iconic Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall, remain shuttered for the semester.
Over 500 teaching sections were forced to move as the damaged buildings undergo repairs expected to cost millions of dollars.
“One of my classes still says ‘to be determined,’” Howard student Yemaya Williams told News4 on Monday. “I still don’t know where it is and I have it tomorrow at 11. So, we’ll see how that goes.”
The Cancer Research Center, College Hall South residence hall, Howard Plaza Tower (West) residence hall, a health sciences library and the Wonder Plaza on-campus shopping center will accommodate displaced classes, according to a map released by the school.
Some faculty members will have to share offices and students may have to plan extra time to get to classes in new buildings.
“I don’t think they’re ready. There are buildings that are not ready to be reopened, causing students to have to walk distances that’s ridiculous just to go to classes,” Brianna Williams, a Howard student, said.
On Monday, those walking on the streets near the campus may have seen steam emanating from the burst pipes.
Despite the inconveniences, Howard student Phoebe Mason said that Howard is doing a good job of communicating with students. She said the school's Town Hall update on the issues was attended by about 200 people.
Howard officials urged patience in a statement to students that paraphrased Martin Luther King Jr. on the civil rights leader's holiday, one day before classes resumed.
“The ultimate measure of an institution is not where we stand in times of comfort and convenience but where we stand and how we respond to challenge and controversy,” the statement said.
The Howard shuttle bus shortened routes and added additional buses during peak times to help students navigate to new spaces, according to the Howard University website.
School officials said the most severely damaged buildings will be closed through spring semester, at least.