After overcoming the criticism of fine arts dean & famed actress Phylicia Rashad over her support of Bill Cosby’s early release from prison, in addition to the now-infamous protests by students over grotesque living conditions at the dorms, Howard U is once again in hot water by its own alumni who’ve filed a lawsuit claiming the university’s board of trustees is illegally excluding graduates, current students and even faculty.
This past summer, Howard chose to remove all affiliate trustee roles for faculty, students and alumni. Following the initial announcement back in June (seen above), many reached out to the university with pleas to reverse its decision being that it eliminates the notion of campus decisions being collaborative in the effort. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 10 alumni who felt the university violated its bylaws in doing so.
The suit alleges Howard’s governing board violated its own bylaws when it stopped filling vacant affiliate trustee spots in April 2020, moved to remove the seats this June, then voted to amend its bylaws to eliminate the positions in November.
“Resultingly, Howard Alumni in their entirety, which includes plaintiffs, have been injured via their disenfranchisement at the highest level of the university’s governance,” the suit claims. The plaintiffs — a group of 10 alumni who graduated between 1960 and 1994 — allege the board cast votes and made major decisions for more than a year without its full required membership.
According to Donald Temple, attorney for the alumni, the school was in direct violation after it “used that hiatus to illegally vote faculty, students, and alumni permanently off the Board in its November 5, 2021 amendment of its by-laws.”
Howard University spokesperson Frank Tramble told The Washington Post that eliminating the positions was simply a way for the school to “modernize” its operations, and that an advisory council would launch in 2022 that would lead to the expansion of possible trustees.
Let us know your thoughts: does the Howard alumni have a case in their lawsuit, or does the university have the right to appoint and eliminate positions as it sees fit?