After nine long days, Howard University students have finally ended their occupation of the campus’ administration building.
On Friday, student activists and university officials announced that the protest had officially come to an end, The Washington Post reported. Members of the Board of Trustees struck a deal with students, promising them more involvement in reviewing the adequacy of campus housing at the historically Black university. The trustees also vowed to improve the process of reporting of campus sexual assault and hold back when it comes to unnecessary hikes in tuition.
Students had also called for the resignation of university president Wayne A.I. Frederick, who attended the Friday press conference announcing the deal. There was no mention of him in the resolution issued by the university’s trustees.
“My fellow board members and I charged President Frederick with making progress on the critical issues facing our university,” Board of Trustees member Marie Johns said during the news conference. “While he has made significant advancements, we all acknowledge there is much more work to be done. He’s committed to stewarding this institution and continues to have our unequivocal and unwavering support.”
Students stormed the administration building on March 29 amid fallout from the revelation that six university employees had misappropriated university-based grants from 2007 until 2016. The exact amount stolen remains a mystery, but Frederick confirmed the employees involved were fired last year. The financial aid scandal was made public last month, thanks to an anonymous blog post published on Medium. That post has since been deleted.
As part of the new deal, the university also released a trustee-approved “statement of commitments” that are intended to address the needs and concerns of the Howard U campus community, The Washington Post reported. Those commitments include a task force aimed at reviewing the university’s Department of Public Safety and another task force focused on sexual violence and harassment.
“I just want to thank everyone, and please urge each other to not forget the connections that you built today,” said Howard senior Alexis McKenney, a lead organizer with student activist group HU Resist. “Do not forget the art that you created this week. Do not forget the songs that you sang, the chants that we screamed from the halls at 3 a.m.”
For many, the new pact marks a new chapter of progress for students and leaders of Howard University.