Thirty-four days into a protest that has captured the hearts and minds of many across the nation, student leaders announced the end to the occupation of Howard’s Blackburn Center.
“Good Morning, it’s #BlackburnTakeover Day 34 and the last day of this historic occupation,” one organizer tweeted. “We won. We aren’t done though we are continuing to come for every thing we are entitled to. Fired up and ready to work.”
According to a press conference early Monday, the terms of the agreement are confidential but the students seemed pleased with the outcome overall.
Frank Tramble, Vice President & Chief Communications at Howard University, told 7News in a statement that the university had reached an agreement with the students, but the story is still developing.
“Howard University is pleased to announce we have come to an agreement with the students who occupied Blackburn and will share a longer message on this topic later today,” Trample said.
Students were also supported by The Live Movement, a national HBCU coalition, which helped to amplify student demands and updates.
“After 34 days of protesting, justice has been served for the HU students,” The Live Movement tweeted. “Though the journey has ended for BlackburnTakeover, TheLiveMovement mission has just begun. There is a divide between HBCU students and their administration. Our work is far from over. #BlackburnTakeover.”
Jasmine Joof, a sophomore at Howard and a spokesperson for #BlackburnTakeover, told CNN the group “achieved increased scrutiny, transparency, and accountability.”
Joof previously told the outlet CNN that she became “sick with congestion, coughing, and headaches” for weeks after discovering mold growing in her dorm. She reported the issue to her campus RA in September to no avail.
“It’s active negligence to their students,” Joof, who is also a spokeswoman for the protest, said, adding, “They have had every opportunity to fix these dorms.” Students say that the campus’ crumbling infrastructure might be to blame for housing conditions deteriorating.
A petition was launched by students urging Howard to break its contract with Corvias Inc., the same company that maintains the campus’ buildings. Howard’s president has not commented publicly about the situation, citing that he and other school officials were working to address the ongoing problem. “This is an aging campus,” Frederick said during his state of the university address.
Unfortunately, inadequate housing appears to be a problem at some other HBCUs across the country. Alivia Duncan, a senior at Clark Atlanta, revealed that students live in dorms with crumbling infrastructure, old furniture, and water-stained ceilings tiles that have caused mold to form throughout the dorms.
According to Duncan, the school was also slammed with a housing shortage when first-year students arrived in the fall. The university reportedly relocated some students to temporary off-campus housing until their rooms were fully renovated, FOX 5 reported.
“Funding is the key to all of this,” Duncan explained. “I’m not saying the schools don’t have responsibility, but with more funding, we are able to make sure that all of the (dorms) are up to date.”
Many HBCUs have been underfunded due to lower investments from state programs and a lower aggregation of assets invested into the school, typically referred to as endowments. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, have an average endowment of “$15,000 per student compared to $410,000 at non-HBCUs.” President Biden plans to set aside $2 billion to service educational programs and infrastructure at HBCUs with his Build Back Better Act proposal, but it could be a while before the bill is passed.
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