Hundreds of Howard University students took over a campus building to protest housing conditions despite threats of disciplinary action by administrators.
Students began a sit-in Tuesday night at the Blackburn University Center. As Wednesday night approached, they said they weren’t going anywhere until their demands are met.
Students of the Northwest D.C. school cited a lack of housing and poor housing conditions.
“I have friends who do not have housing, who are staying in their cars, that are staying with friends,” said a student who declined to give her name.
“We’re paying $48,000 a year — $50,000 for some people — to be living with mold and being hospitalized. With rats and roaches. That’s not Howard,” sophomore Tia-Andrea Scott said.
The students began the sit-in after growing frustrated with the university’s response to their demands. Their anger and numbers grew after administrators sent a letter threatening disciplinary action.
Photos: Famous Howard University Alumni and Former Students
It’s time for Howard to address longstanding housing issues, freshman Ty Davis said.
“These are decades-old issues that Howard keeps refusing to address and just keeps giving students things in hope that it will placate them and they’ll leave it alone. But we’re not those people, we’re not that generation,” he said.
Students’ demands include an in-person town hall with administrators, voting power for student representatives on the board of trustees and a discussion of a housing plan for future students.
The administration said it increased the number of available beds on campus and subsidized rent at two off-campus apartments. Changes to the board of trustees were made in the interest of efficiency, they said.
“The well-being of our students is always one of our top concerns and we will also support the right to a peaceful protest … In previous months, university leadership has collaborated with student leaders to address top concerns and continue to provide a best-in-class university experience,” Vice President of Student Affairs Cynthia Evers said in a statement.
After administrators gave students until noon Wednesday to clear the building, hundreds more went inside.
“At the end of the day, we’re just college students fighting for things we shouldn’t even have to ask for, things we deserve as basic human beings,” Davis said.