Students Take Over Howard University Campus To Protest Poor Housing Conditions

On Tuesday night, students of Howard University staged a sit-in at the campus’ Blackburn Center, where they vowed to remain until their demands were met. Their demands were centered on their ongoing concerns with the school’s housing conditions. 

Thandiwe Abdullah, a 17-year-old student at Howard, made headlines last week when she complained of mold and leaks in her dorm room. According to Abdullah, the school refused to relocate her. Other students have also complained of rats and roaches in the café, according to reports on social media, and it appears the students have officially had enough. On Tuesday night, in an effort to evoke change, dozens of student protesters took over the campus. Supporters were able to follow online using the hashtag #BlackburnTakeover on Twitter. 

The protest went through the night, as additional students showed up in solidarity the following day. 

Students have three demands: an in-person town hall with Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick and school administration before November, the reinstatement of affiliate trustee positions and a meeting with Frederick and other leaders around an improved housing plan. 

Aniyah Vines, Howard senior and founder of the Live Movement, is one of the students leading the protest. In an interview with The Hilltop, she called the issue a “housing crisis” and said she’s heard about students sleeping in their cars and bathing in the Blackburn Center. 

Howard University student council leaders issued a statement standing in solidarity with their classmates while also confirming that they’ve witnessed hazardous living conditions, relaxed COVID protocols and student homelessness. 

Amid the protest, Howard is being accused of calling campus police on students. Officers are said to be pulling fire alarms to “escalate” the situation according to Washington, D.C., abolitionist group Harriet’s Dreams.

Those who are attempting to bring food and supplies to protesters are allegedly being met with long wait times or being refused altogether.

This is the second student-led protest this month in which Howard students loudly, proudly and safely made their voices heard.. On Oct. 5, the Young Democratic Socialists of America held a day-long demonstration on campus over concerns with the school’s housing issues, financial aid, safety and sexual harassment. 

Follow the #BlackburnTakeover hashtag on Twitter for live updates. 

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