More than 200 students are protesting inside of Howard University’s administration building and they don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.
Students gathered together for a protest on Thursday that has lasted 24-hours and counting after reports surfaced from an anonymous post on Medium and the school’s student newspaper The Hilltop about the university embezzling funds.
The Medium story is now suspended.
Six Howard employees were fired last year after a nine year investigation concluded that university grants were given to those employees who also received tuition remission.
The school’s President Wayne A.I. Fredrick confirmed this in a statement on Wednesday morning following the reports. Frederick said that he was “alerted” about the issue in December of 2016 that there was a possibility of misappropriation of university provided financial aid funds.
Frederick said he “self-reported” the issue to the Department of Education.
Outside auditors completed their investigation and released the information to Frederick in May 2017, almost a year ago.
Students have said to be demanding Frederick’s resignation.
“Being a student there, you can tell there was something fishy going on, but sometimes you feel helpless,” said Evan Lawson, a 2017 graduate of Howard who is now currently in graduate school at Columbia University.
“Students are the victims and it’s just unfortunate that we don’t have an administration or individuals that we can hold accountable to handle our money right or care about our education.”
Students made their way to the executive floor on Friday led by the student activist group “HU Resist.” The group tweeted live updates of students occupying all floors of the building and noted that the university had shut of access to air conditioning in “efforts of exhausting student protesters.”
The night before, students hung posters of their demands from outside of the administration building and started a PayPal account for supporters to donate funds to students who may be in need of refreshments as they protested being locked in the building.
Thursday’s first day of protests recognized a 50-year anniversary of when past students did a similar tactic in the administration building.
“A lot of the issues students are facing are redundant,” said Simone Yhap, a junior at Howard and programming director for the Undergraduate Student Assembly.
“Whenever we have a list of demands or concerns people always think it is one thing we are focusing on. There are multiple issues within the infrastructure of Howard that is broken and has failed to be addressed.”
Yhap added that it took up to two months for some student’s loans to be processed. She said that it impacts students in several areas when trying to fight holds placed on their accounts during the time they begin to register for classes or getting access to their transcripts.
Howard’s scandal comes in light of several other mishaps that have been surfacing with historically Black colleges. The school’s rival, Hampton University, was under fire after students complained about a lack of dorm renovations, moldy food and administration ignoring rape allegations happening across the campus.
Kyra Azore, a junior at Howard and student representative for the National Association of Black Journalists believes that many predominantly Black college students no longer want to deal with the issues that have been prevalent for years.
“I believe this generation has seen that they will no longer deal with the runaround, the half baked answers, it’s no longer good enough,” she said.
“Often times alumni say this is the status quo, this is what we dealt with. That’s no longer acceptable. You shouldn’t allow someone to go through the same thing you went through if it wasn’t right.”
Protests are expect to continue throughout the weekend.
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