Students at Hampton University, one of the nation’s oldest and most storied Historically Black institutions, are demanding changes at the 150 year old university.
In the wake of a tense Feb. 21 town hall meeting, student leaders are pushing for officials at the Virginia college to address a laundry list issues, including improvement to campus facilities, food services, and addressing how sexual assault is handled by administration.
Last month, an independent collective of Hampton students issued a letter demanding the school do a better job of educating students about issues of consent, rape, and sexual assault and harassment.
“We acknowledge that the subject is briefly discussed in freshman orientation, but this is minimal,” the student letter read. “Therefore we propose that there be specified lessons regarding the Title IX process and proper consent be embedded into the University 101 curriculum.”
Title IX refers to the 1972 education amendment that states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” In 2017, the Department of Education opened a Title IX investigation into HU based on the way it was handling sexual assault claims.
According to The Root, Hampton’s University 101 is an orientation course for new students and covers the culture and values of the school and gives tips on things like test anxiety, the school dress code, and how to manage stress. Student leaders would also like to for class to explicitly deal with issues of sexual harassment and assault.
While the university has promised to make changes, many students say they aren’t good enough.
“The campus put up lights and emergency stations around campus to make sure students are safe,” Kimberly Burton, a graduating senior, told The Root. “Many of them—I’m standing in front of one of the emergency stations right now—just don’t work.”
After the town hall meeting, Hampton University officials issued a statement promising to address student concerns and issued a point-by-point breakdown of how they are attempting to change.
“The University acknowledges and appreciates the support of the University community in response to the expressed concerns in various meetings,” the letter stated. “Moving forward, we will continue to address the issues raised on a regular and consistent basis until all have been resolved.”