Students at Howard University are taking to social media with concerns about the school ranging from facilities and administration to unreliable access to the internet.
Writing under the hashtag #TakeBackHU, which has been trending across the nation, many students feel that taking the protest to Twitter is the only way to make their voices heard after being largely ignored by school officials.
Student arguments include claims of broken air conditioners in classrooms, mold in the dorm rooms, and infestations of rats everywhere.
The campaign is being led by Howard University senior Jalen Williams, who said: “It’s just a peaceful call to action. I want people to understand is that the students here, we love our university. So we just want to see things change for the better.”
Other students say the problems are not only financial, but also administrative. Student Jimmy Anthony told Mike Murillo of WTOP that customer service representatives for the school “give me attitude or act like they are not compassionate enough about it.”
President Wayne A.I. Frederick recently responded to the criticism by saying, “My team & I are working diligently towards a comprehensive communication & resolve for your concerns,” he wrote. “Your voices are heard and appreciated.”
Not all students at the school feel that the situation is being ignored by school administration. Student Isaiah Holmes said improvements throughout student housing could be seen, as a number of dorms have been closed down for repairs.
While the school is one of the leading private HBCUs in the country, with notable alumni including Nobel Prize–winning novelist Toni Morrison, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and actress Phylicia Rashad, the school has faced a number of financial troubles in recent years.
A vice chairwoman of the school’s board of trustees had warned the board of the financial issues in 2013.
“Howard will not be here in three years if we don’t make some crucial decisions now,” Renee Higginbotham-Brooks wrote in a letter dated April 24, 2013, which was later leaked to the media.
She also sought a vote of no confidence in the Chairman of the Board and the President. Later that same year, then-president Sidney A. Ribeau resigned.
In April, 84 staff positions were cut in order “to ensure long-term financial stability for the University,” according to spokeswoman Rachel Mann.
Many students argue that the financial situation faced by the college could be to blame for the issues they are dealing with.
“If Howard was a little more forthcoming with their financial status, to their students at least, then maybe we can understand the circumstances might be a little trying,” said freshman Jihad Muhammed, a finance major.
A sit-in to protest the school has been planned by some students.