Howard University President A.I. Frederick wrote that students’ protest of a campus building’s poor housing conditions and other issues “must end.”
Students have occupied the Armour J. Blackburn Center for two weeks, according to DCist. They’ve vowed to stay until the university remediates mold in students’ dorms, creates a housing plan for incoming freshmen and reinstates students, faculty and alumni to the university’s Board of Trustees.
While some activists have shown support on social media for what’s being called the “Blackburn Takeover,” Frederick expressed a little impatience about the ongoing demonstration in an open letter, DCist reported.
“Howard University’s proud tradition of student protest has never been — and can never be — invoked as a justification for tactics that harm our students,” the president said. “The current occupation of the Armour J. Blackburn Center is a departure from past norms. There is a distinct difference between peaceful protest and freedom of expression and the occupation of a University building that impedes operations and access to essential services and creates health and safety risks.”
Frederick’s letter did not specify what those health and safety risks are or what services and operations have been disrupted. Howard University’s COO, Tashni-Ann Dubroy, posted on Twitter that protestors are “trespassing and creating food insecurities for their peers.” One of the campus dining halls is located in the protest site.
As for the mold in dorm rooms, Frederick said it isn’t widespread and that “the vast majority of our students are living comfortably in their rooms.”
In response to the letter, the Live Movement, a coalition of students from historically Black colleges and universities advocating for education reforms, said Frederick is evading students’ concerns.
“His focus is still not meeting our demands, but getting us out of this building. He must not understand that the only way we’ll leave this building is if he meets our demands,” the Live Movement posted on Instagram.