Howard University student protest ends in confidential deal

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Howard University undergraduates have reached a deal with the historically black college administration to end a 34-day protest against unsafe housing conditions, they said Monday morning.

Students began occupying Blackburn University Center on October 12 to protest against mold, rats, flooding and other issues they reported in residences. A campus official confirmed last month that mold was found in 38 of the 2,700 dormitories.

The deal, which is confidential, comes after 20 days of negotiations, the students said.

“Although the specific terms of the agreement are confidential, it can be said without any hesitation or reservation that the students have courageously walked towards greater academic accountability and transparency and public safety,” said Donald Temple, an attorney representing the students at a press conference. “And this agreement marks a meeting of minds among themselves on issues of concern. ”

Channing Hill, president of Howard’s NAACP chapter, said, “We got what we came for. We have benefited from increased surveillance. We have achieved greater transparency and accountability. And by virtue of this protest, we collected everything we were entitled to. “

Howard University students gathered on the Washington campus on October 25 to protest what they alleged was the mistreatment of students by the university administration. Salwan Georges / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

The university said in a statement on Oct. 26 that it would not consider any kind of compromise until the students end their protest.

University spokesperson Kimberly Iverson said in a statement Monday: “Howard University is pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with the students who have occupied Blackburn and will share a longer message on this. topic later today.

Aniyah Vines, the founder of the campus organization Live Movement – which co-hosted the sit-in, known as Blackburn Takeover, with the campus chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America and the Howard community – declared that the demonstrators “had decided not to move until the administration understood that our voices counted.

“We were fed up with it,” Vines said. “We had had enough and we were ready to make changes at our beloved Howard University by holding the administration to account. “

Chandler Robinson, another member of Live Movement, said: “I am delighted that we have finally made this agreement with the university. There were times when we were nervous that this didn’t happen, that we could have fought in vain. But I am also very tired. I’m a student and I juggled protesting with being a full-time student, which was very difficult. I am delighted not only that we have come to this agreement, but that I can finally focus on my studies as a normal student.

Responsibility for the reported poor living conditions was one of many Blackburn takeover requests issued on October 20.

The demands included a detailed housing plan, legal and disciplinary immunity for students involved in the protest, and the reinstatement of board member positions that the university cut over the summer.

The confidentiality clause sparked a wave of reactions on social media. Throughout the occupation, videos and photos of the living conditions have gone viral on social media, with alumni and protest supporters calling on Howard to provide better housing. And now, they say, a sealed deal lacks accountability.

” Do not mistake yourself. I am extremely proud of the students who fought for change with the #BlackburnTakeover and I love that they were finally able to come to an agreement. But, as this deal is confidential, it will be difficult to keep Howard at the level we know he needs to reach ”, former student journalist Alexa Lisitza tweeted.

Another alum, Kamau Waset, tweeted a similar sentiment: “I am so proud of the students who led the #BlackburnTakeover. But I’m so disappointed that my university forced these students to protest for 33 days just to get this deal done.

Writer and YouTuber Jouelzy tweeted, “So proud of the #BlackburnTakeover students, but why is the deal confidential? ”

The university recently renovated four of its eight residential buildings, but students said last month they were poorly maintained due to low project budgets. The issue of unsafe living conditions in the historically black prominent university dates back to the 1980s, and there have been protests since then.

Blackburn Takeover is the longest protest in Howard history. During Monday’s press conference, student protesters and members of the negotiating team, including Hill, thanked alumni and community members who donated tents and food, which made it possible for the manifestation to last as long as it did.

Meanwhile, some former students showed solidarity by occupying Blackburn alongside the students, and some professors gave lessons at the protest.

“We won for Howard’s students,” Hill said. “We won for Howard University, both historic Howard and future Howard. And we won for our community.

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CORRECTION (Nov. 15, 3:02 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the number of days students demonstrated at Blackburn University Center. It was 34 days, not 33.

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