Dear Howard University Board of Trustees:
The Howard University student protest, #BlackburnTakeOver, began on October 12th and has been going on now for 21 consecutive days (three weeks). Today, negotiations are at a standstill because President Frederick and Board Chairman Laurence Morse are refusing to meet with the students to discuss their demands. They are requesting:
- An in-person Student Town Hall with President Frederick & Administration.
- Reinstatement of all Affiliate Trustee positions (students, faculty, alumni) on the Board of Trustees with voting power.
- The President and Chairman of the Board to work with Student Leadership to develop a housing plan for incoming classes of Howard’s immediate future.
- Amnesty for all student protestors.
Concerned Stakeholders understand the critical need to bring this matter to a peaceful resolve for the sake of the students involved. Since the President and the Board Chairman have refused to meet with the students, this not only hurts the students who are crying out for help, it equally impacts the Administration who are treating their concerns with disregard. The disregard being shown to them, in fact, is reverberating nationwide. Therefore, it is time for other members of the Board to come to the table and meet with the students. Time is of the essence.
Again, the Board of Trustees, who oversee and operate this institution, need to end this impasse before this situation has dire consequences, not only for the students, but also for the institution’s mission and vision. Veritas et Utilitas, or Truth and Service, as the university’s seal reads, is often cited by the Administration and Board. However, inaction by the Administration and the Board of Trustees speaks louder than words.
As the Administration sits back and rests on its laurels, the situation has shown the potential to spiral out of control. A glimpse of this occurred on the Saturday of Homecoming, when there was a heated moment between the Howard University Campus Police and students. There are reports of a student being choked by a Campus Police Officer and another Campus Police Officer pulled out his baton in an attempt to harm a student which was caught on video. Yet, this too was not enough for the President, who is supposed to be a servant leader for all Stakeholders, to intervene. What does this say about the Administration?
If HU Board members refuse to come to the table to negotiate with the students, this situation may escalate, leading to a national incident that could stain our beloved university forever. The eyes of the world are on the Howard University Administration to do their due diligence and meet with the students whom they claim to care about and serve. Non-action is negligence.
The time is now for the Board of Trustees to seize the moment and meet with the Howard University students – more specifically the young women who are the leaders of this movement. They deserve better by the Administration and their voices should be heard.
A Concerned Bison