More and more I am reminded of my steadily advancing age. As is common with experienced-Americans (See? I’m hyphenated now! I’m hip and groovy!), I remember the past with crystal clarity. The present, when it’s not confusing, not so much.
For example, I remember when I was an undergraduate back in the 1400s. Protesting would not have occurred to most of us because we were paying good money–mostly our own–to attend college, and we wanted to get it out of the way as soon as possible so we could begin independent lives. Our professors expected us to be in class, for the most part actually taught their disciplines, and there were significant consequences for absences. There were no “studies” classes.
I know that sounds hopelessly old fashioned and quaint now, but bear with me, gentle readers. Anyone who, for a moment, entertained the idea of “occupying” any building quickly abandoned that notion, or if they mentioned it to others, were equally rapidly disabused. It was painfully obvious adults were in charge, and not only would protestors get no faculty support—Oh OK; I suppose there were a few flakes that would dig out moth-eaten berets and yell “revolution, man!—the administration would listen politely until they realized they were witnessing a tantrum, would have them arrested, and that would be that—except for their inevitable expulsion.
Oh, how things have changed, as Legal Insurrection reports:
Howard University is a historically black college in Washington, DC which has been struggling financially for a number of years. In 2014, the New York Times reported that the school had been downgraded by Moody’s. [skip]
The student occupation of the administration building at Howard University in Washington, D.C. was in its seventh day on Wednesday, with demonstrators drawing inspiration from the historically black college’s history of protest in their sit-in over misappropriated financial aid funds.
The protest, spearheaded by the student group HU Resist, continued even after the school’s board of trustees agreed over the weekend to meet one of the protesters’ demands in a bid to end an occupation that started on March 29.
“We have officially reached our 7th day occupying A Building!” HU Resist tweeted. “Because of our supporters and student participants we are able to continue to fight. Nothing will stop us from demanding the change we deserve!”
The university board agreed to the first of nine students demand — “adequate housing for all students under the age of 21 and extend the fall 2018 housing deposit deadline to May 1,” according to Alexis McKenney, a Howard student and lead organizer of HU Resist…
I’ve always had the impression “historically black” colleges were all about academic excellence,thinking it necessary for the success of its graduates. Apparently, I’m wrong, at least as far as Howard University goes.
You might think this protest is all about the financial corruption, until you read the entire list of student demands, via WUSA:
We demand that Howard University provide adequate housing for all students under the age of 21 and extend the Fall 2018 housing deposit deadline to May 1.
We demand an immediate end to unsubstantiated tuition hikes and complete access to administrative salaries.
We demand that Howard University actively fight rape culture on campus in an effort to prevent sexual assault.
We demand that Howard University implement a grievance system to hold faculty and administrators accountable in their language and action toward students with marginalized identities.
We demand that Howard University hire more counselors and implement an inclusive attendance policy that accounts for mental and emotional health issues.
We demand the immediate disarming of campus police officers and the formation of a Police Oversight Committee controlled by students, faculty, staff and off-campus community representatives.
We demand that Howard University allocate more resources toward combating food insecurity and gentrification within the LeDroit-Shaw community.
We demand the immediate resignation of President Wayne A.I. Frederick and the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees.
We demand that students have the power to democratically influence the decision of the administration and the Board of Trustees by way of popular vote.
Translation: We get to decide who teaches, how they teach, what they say, and we can fire them if we decide we don’t like them. We don’t have to attend classes if we don’t feel like it. Disarm the pigs and we get to say what they’re allowed to do. We get to run the neighboring community; to hell with all that elected representatives stuff. Fire the board of trustees and make us the board of trustees. Why haven’t we been granted our diplomas yet, and where’s our money, bitches?
That any college administration anywhere would so much as consider any of these insane demands speaks volumes. How will Howard “actively fight rape culture on campus” by emasculating the police, and why shouldn’t I be defenestrated for using a sexist word like “emasculating?”
Perhaps the greatest irony here is everyone involved will have no idea why Howard is in such financial difficulty. You know, don’t you, gentle readers?