Welp, it appears that the #BlackburnTakeover at Howard University has finally come to an end. For 34 days, students at Howard led sit-ins at the university’s Armour J. Blackburn University Center in protest of the deplorable living conditions students say they have been subjected to at the well-known HBCU.
But Howard U President Wayne Frederick announced Monday that all that has come to an end as protesters and school administrators have come to an understanding and are ready to move forward.
“Howard University is pleased to announce that we have come to an agreement with the students who occupied Blackburn,” Frederick said in a statement. “This is a welcome step forward as we continue to bring together our Howard community. About one month ago, student protesters initiated their occupation of Blackburn. Today, they have agreed to leave Blackburn, and I also expect non-student protesters to depart the surrounding area – and to end their occupation of the campus.”
Among other grievances, students claimed they were subjected to rodents, roaches, and mold in their dorms and even in the spaces where they eat, but despite all that, Frederick included in his statement that the “health and well-being of our students is the most important part of my job as president,” and that “even one issue in one of our dormitories is too many, and we will continue to remain vigilant in our pledge to maintain safe and high-end housing.”
Frederick didn’t go into any detail as to what improvements will be made at the university in order to address the concerns and improve the living conditions of students, but he did say he looks forward to “sharing details soon on our ideas that will address concerns and build a culture where all are heard.” This, of course, is a departure from his earlier response to the protests in which he insisted that dorms at Howard were not any worse now than they have been in the past—which obviously wasn’t the flex he thought it was.
Still, Federick went on to say in his statement that “Our Howard Forward strategic plan, which was launched in 2019, will continue to guide our path and build upon our success as we transform the academy, research enterprise and financial strength of the University to be best in class.”
Frederick also mentioned the university’s “strategy to grow and invest in our beloved Hilltop,” the student-led newspaper that staff writers claimed earlier was being censored by administrators as they were covering the protests.
Hopefully, Frederick and other administrators at Howard will make good on their commitment to their students’ wellbeing. Black students at one of the nation’s most well-known HBCUs shouldn’t have to fight to be educated in a well-kept learning environment.