Howard University student president testifies to Congress about bomb threats

Since January, 101 historically Black colleges and universities have received bomb threats against their campuses, including D.C.’s Howard University, in many cases leading to large police responses and lockdowns.

“When bigoted, coward actors began to issue violent bomb threats to Howard University and dozens of HBCUs at the start of 2022, it was clear that their intentions were to dismantle sacred pinnacles of Black excellence,” said Kylie Burke, president of Howard University’s Student Association.

Thursday, Burke told members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that what happened had heightened anxiety among faculty and staff.

“The added stress and in some cases, paranoia, students, faculty and staff have subsequently experienced cannot be understated,” Burke told members of the committee.

The focus was to protect the campus first, and then offer resources to students who need them. Many of the threats were days apart, and some occurred during Black history month.

Among the steps the school has taken included offering mental health days to those who need them, and also forming programs in which the school community could come together to discuss what happened.

“Acknowledging the weight of anxiety felt on campus after students were repeatedly woken up with safety alerts, sometimes as late as 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. … constantly leaving us on edge and feeling as if the next threat was imminent,” Burke said.

Burke said the school’s response, and the response by other HBCUs, demonstrated a united condemnation of those who instigated the threats.

“Our resilience stands as a testament to the fact that no threat, either real or fictitious, could ever stand against our legacy, our community and our commitment to support each other,” Burke said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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