As student protests near the one month mark, Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick has delivered his semiannual "State of the University" address. Throughout his speech, Frederick attempted to apologize for the poor housing conditions provided to students thus far.
“The current events that are taking place on campus are very important. I hear the concerns, I want to be absolutely clear about that,” he said.
“We apologize for anybody that was inconvenienced in any way, shape, or form.”
Among other things, students have reportedly seen vermin in campus buildings, mold in dorms and water damage in other venues. Continued reports of poor living conditions led a group of more than 100 students to occupy the Armour Blackburn J. Center in protest. Meanwhile, some students have opted to live in tents around campus because they say they have nowhere else to go. Celebrities like Debbie Allen, Wale and Gucci Mane have stopped by to offer their support for students throughout the month-long protest. Also, elected officials like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Cori Bush and Ayanna Pressley have offered their support for student protesters.
Moving forward, Frederick says that the school will perform "preventative maintenance" in order to ensure something like this doesn't happen again.
Frederick's comments have fallen on deaf ears for many protesters. Shortly after Frederick made his "State of the University" address, "The Live Movement" issued a press release reaffirming their stance on the matter. Student say that many of their demands still have not been met, including academic and legal immunity for protesters.
“The university has tried on multiple occasions to meet the demands on their own terms,” Howard University Jasmine Joof told DCist.
“He’s just trying to save face, so [he] can be like, ‘No, I have a done a Q&A, and I was listening to students voices,’ which just isn’t true.”
Those supporting student protesters from afar have taken to social media to criticize Frederick's response to his students' concerns. Specifically, many people have taken issue with Frederick's explanation that water damage was the result of “accidental human error.” Also, many critics have taken issue with a university spokesperson who told Politico that the school "only had 41 dorms" with mold in them.
Moving forward, it doesn't appear that Joof or her fellow students will be leaving the Blackburn Center anytime soon.