Legendary sisters Phylicia Rashad, now dean of Howard’s newly-minted Chadwick A. Boseman School of Fine Arts, and Debbie Allen were on campus Friday to attend a State of the University address by President Wayne Frederick, where he acknowledged the housing issues.
The pair was entering the Fine Arts building and stopped for questions.
“In any country when the students don’t speak out, the nation is not doing well,” Allen said.
“When the students do speak out and they have been heard, and their concerns have been addressed and it’s still not enough, what about that?” Rashad asked rhetorically.
“Oh well that’s a whole ‘nother thing,” Allen said before asking Rashad, “So are their concerns being addressed?”
“Ok let’s come inside. I wouldn’t get into that if I were you,” Rashad urged Allen, cutting off questions.
According to a source, Frederick has not met with student protestors to discuss their concerns since October 14.
Protestors started a petition citing housing problems under the school’s housing property management company, Corvias, including “crumbling ceilings, brown water, black mold, cases of students developing mold-based asthma and respiratory illnesses, and a list of other harmful building issues and DC health code violations.”
In addition to canceling the $2 billion Corvias contract, they have outlined immediate demands, including a written commitment for student representatives to gain voting power on the Board of Trustees and a meeting with student leadership to outline a housing plan to protect incoming students.
The Howard chapter of the NAACP expressed its solidarity with students in a written statement a day after the sit-in at Blackburn University Center began:
At his Friday address, Frederick discussed a “Hyper Care Approach,” where staff makes rounds to dorm rooms to assess housing conditions. He acknowledged the university was lacking in “preventive maintenance.”
On October 28, ESSENCE spoke with student protestor Erica England, who showed the protest site outside of Blackburn. She further explained Howard’s “Hyper Care” measures to remediate mold, but other concerns remain.
In addition to accepting monetary donations so students can continue the sit-in, protestors of Howard-based The Live Movement are accepting food, heated blankets, and power banks.