Howard University students form campus tent city to protest housing conditions

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    A tent encampment remains Monday at Howard University, the historically Black college in Washington, D.C., as several dozen students have forgone their dormitories to protest what they describe as unlivable housing conditions, claiming mold, insects and rodents have infested living quarters.  

    Monday marks the third week of student protests led by the organizations, Young Democratic Socialists of America and Live Movement, which advocates for education reform and academic advancement, NPR reported. 

    Protesters first showed up outside the Blackburn University Center on Oct. 12, launching the so-called #BlackburnTakeover after several students shared videos on social media purportedly showing leaking ceilings, mold behind wall paneling, as well as insects and mice in several dormitory buildings. 

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    “I’m not going to say that I expect a lot more, I expect the bare minimum. I expect decent housing,” Lamiya Murray, an 18-year-old freshman who has been camping out on campus, told ABC News Sunday, describing how she suffered from a respiratory infection while living in her dorm. 

    “I expect to be in a space where I will feel safe and secure, but the dorms became a health hazard. I was waking up every morning with a cough that I didn’t go to sleep with the night before, and struggling to breathe at night,” she said. 

    Protesters have blocked school administrators from entering the Blackburn cafeteria and stub hub, as students have also camped out inside and otherwise occupied the campus building.  

    On Sunday, organizers rejected attempts by Cynthia Evers, the school’s vice president for student affairs, to negotiate, still demanding that President Wayne A.I. Frederick and Howard University’s Board of Trustees meet with protesters by the end of the month, WTOP reported. 

    Evers previously warned students participating in the protest they might face expulsion, writing in an Oct. 13 email “there is a marked delineation between historic protests and what we witnessed.” 

    “The University looks to fully preserve the integrity and authenticity of students’ constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech and assembly while protecting against the weaponization of these rights as false representations of the Howard student experience at large,” she wrote. 

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    Howard University made national headlines over the summer after “1619 Project” creator Nikole Hannah-Jones accepted a tenured position there, snubbing her alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, after long-simmering drama over a lifetime faculty appointment.

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