Howard University president says he ‘hears concerns’ about housing in address to students

FILE - In this July 6, 2021, file photo, an electronic signboard welcomes people to the Howard University campus in Washington. With the surprise twin hiring of two of the country's most prominent writers on race, Howard University is positioning itself as one of the primary centers of Black academic thought just as America struggles through a painful crossroads over historic racial injustice. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)(AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick said in an address to students on Friday that he is listening to concerns from students as protests  continue on campus.

“I hear the concerns, I want to be absolutely clear about that,” Frederick said. “Rather than continue to put out a counternarrative through the media and social media, which I know has been frustrating … what we have tried to do is focus on the issues at hand and to manage those issues as well as we can.”

Since Oct. 12, students have been occupying the Blackburn University Center over a number of issues they said the university has failed to address.

Among the problems they cite are the condition of on-campus housing, the availability of university-run housing, COVID-19 preparedness and student representation on the university’s board of trustees.

Frederick talked about the living situation on Friday and said that the university has to remain committed to making sure they are acceptable.

“We need to ensure that living accommodations in the residence halls are healthy and safe. That has to be an uncompromising position that we must take,” Frederick said.

He said they’ve had reports of issues in 41 of 2,700 rooms.

Frederick added that there needs to be a better way to sort through issues.

“We have to create a transparent process for housing students and responding to issues in the residence halls,” Frederick said.

He said that some of the problems appeared because the dorms were not occupied for quite some time due to coronavirus precautions.

“The reality is not having anybody occupying the residence halls for a year,” Frederick said. “As with hotels, etc., the chance of having mold appear is heightened. We had a long, wet,
hot summer, and that has extended into the fall and so these are issues that we have to mitigate.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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