The occupation of Howard University’s administration building continued Wednesday, amid calls for change at the iconic school in Northwest Washington.
“We’re willing to see it through to the very end,” said Imani Bryant, a Howard freshman with the student group HU Resist, which has organized the protest. “We’re all very tired of the way the university has been running, and the way it’s been going. We’re tired of being disrespected by administration, especially in terms of housing and financial aid.”
The occupation of Howard’s “A” Building began Thursday, with students camping inside as negotiations with the university’s Board of Trustees continued. At times, students involved in the standoff have seemed optimistic, though they have also cautioned that demonstrators were willing to wait.
“I do not see this ending tonight,” Bryant said Wednesday afternoon. “I do expect us to spend the night here again. But I do expect it to end soon. I believe that the Board of Trustees has been very receptive.”
Those involved in the campus protest have issued demands, which include the resignation of Wayne A.I. Frederick, Howard’s embattled president. The students also call for an overhaul of policies related to sexual assault, improvements in how the school handles mental health concerns and a greater voice in university decision-making.
Negotiations have been progressing, said Bryant, who called the demand for Frederick’s resignation “non-negotiable.” Talks were expected to continue later Wednesday, she said.
“I am hoping that we will be able to leave soon, because I don’t want there to ever be another ‘A’ Building takeover again,” she said. “I want the university to improve and to have increased student power, so we can make sure the university is taking care of its primary stakeholders.”
Full-time faculty members at Howard started voting Wednesday on a “no confidence” measure aimed at Frederick and other Howard leaders. The voting was expected to continue until Friday afternoon, with results expected later that day.
“The faculty are quite motivated by the students,” said Taft Broome Jr., who was chairman of Howard’s Faculty Senate when it previously delivered a vote of no confidence in Frederick.
The occupation on Howard’s campus comes amid a financial aid scandal at the historically black institution, though those taking part in the demonstration have said their concerns transcend that matter. The university last week disclosed the alleged financial aid misdeeds, which prompted the firings of six employees. It became the latest in a string of incidents that have upset students, faculty and staff.
Frederick has received support from the university’s Council of Deans, which represents leaders of Howard’s schools and colleges, and from the school’s alumni association.