After a month-long protest, students at Howard University have finally reached common ground with university officials over housing conditions on the historically Black campus. On Monday, Howard University President Wayne Frederick released a video stating that the agreement between the school and the students who are demonstrating is a “welcome step forward.” The move signaled the end of the Blackburn protest, which began on Oct. 12.
“About one month ago, student protesters initiated their occupation of Blackburn,” Frederick said. “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.”
Last month, videos from students showing the roach and mice infestation, flooding, and mold in their dorm rooms went viral on Tiktok and Instagram under the hashtag #blackburntakeover. As a result, students demonstrated inside the Blackburn University Center slept outside in tents, and even boycotted homecoming. They demanded that the university provide a comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis and provide student representation among its board of trustees.
Frederick did not share details on how Howard will address the concerns but he did state that they will “work collaboratively.”
The health and well-being of our students is the most important part of my job as president,” he said. “As I have said before, 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.”
Students’ reaction to protest ending
Chandler Robinson was among the students demonstrating and says the process was tiring.
“It’s been a very long 34 days and being in a constant state of fire flight, it’s been very difficult not only on me but so many other people who were part of the protest,” Robinson tells RoyalTee. The 18-year-old psychology freshman major had been dealing with poor housing issues such she arrived on campus back in August. She documented her experiences on TikTok. Robinson says she’s excited that an agreement was reached.
“There were times that we thought we were protesting in vain but we received so many comments of support, so many emails, so many people coming up to us and telling us that we were doing the right thing and we knew that we couldn’t stop.”
She added, “Once we reached this agreement, we now can finally return to being students because we been juggling being full-time protestors and full-time students which is very difficult.”
National HBCU Coalition, The Live Moment, has been documenting the 34-day protest on their Instagram page since it began.
“The revolution will be televised and documented,” the coalition group captioned a recap video on their page. “Howard University students made history by staying resilient and saying enough is enough for 34 days. Though there is still work to be done on Howard University‘s campus, a precedent has been set for the generations to come. No matter your age, you have the power to make change.”
The Live Moment said HBCU administration across the country need to be made accountable and they will make sure that the “students have a platform” to “voice their truth” and “get their demands met by any means necessary.”
‘We are Howard University’
Robinson previously shared with RoyalTee her thoughts on staying at the university. During the protests, she told her parents she wanted to stay and see the process through. It’s a decision that she says is still “up in the air.”
“We still have an entire spring semester to get through and as a community, we have to ensure that this agreement is upheld because it is confidential. So those of us with the knowledge of the agreement have to ensure that not only the university holds up their part but we hold up our part to keep them accountable.”
Despite thoughts on leaving, Robinson is staying and remaining loyal to the institution she loves.
She added, “I would love to stay at Howard University. I’m a very proud Howard University student because we are Howard University. The community that showed out for us is Howard University. We as the students who protested for 34 very long days and nights, we are Howard University. The faculty that set up posters for us, encouraging us, who slept out in tents with us is Howard University. So, I will love to stay because I love this school.”
A working journalist, entrepreneur and founder of RoyalTee Enterprises. Born and raised in Tampa, Fla. The vision of RoyalTee was inspired in 2015 by Alexia’s ambitions to return to her passion for creative writing and publishing and create a platform to showcase the excellence of minority women across the country through professional, personal and social ventures.