Students at Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C., are entering the fourth day of their sit-in as they negotiate their demands with the university involving the handling of financial aid.
The protest was started by the student group HU Resist after Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick said that an internal probe found that financial aid was misused by the university from 2007 to 2016. According to the probe, some employees got grants from Howard and tuition remission that exceeded the total cost of attendance.
Alexis McKenney, a student organizer with HU Resist, told reporters that after meeting with administration officials on Saturday and Sunday morning the students have secured their first demand. That demand was to extend the housing deadline for the fall of 2018 to May 1 and for the school to provide adequate housing for those under 21.
McKenney said the action is a good first step toward a “liberated [historically black university].”
“In the meantime, we will continue to occupy the building and we are prepared to continue to negotiate with the administration and the board of trustees on the terms of our demands,” McKenney added.
The students have demanded a list of assurances from Howard University, including ending “unsubstantiated tuition hikes,” providing adequate housing for students under the age of 21, addressing sexual assault on campus and the resignation of the university president and the executive committee of the board of trustees.
The student group also demanded that campus police officers not be armed and wants the administration to fight food security and gentrification in the surrounding community. The demonstrators also want students to have a say in decisions made by school officials “by way of popular vote.”
McKenney said the requests are based on a survey taken by students. She noted that the students are confident that the university can agree to the students' demands and said there is little the students are willing to negotiate on.
The trustees said in a statement released on Friday that the student’s concerns are “inaccurate.”
The next negotiation meeting will be at 9 p.m. on Sunday, according to McKenney.