WASHINGTON - Students at Howard University are now at day three of a sit-in protest, which was sparked by a leaked report that six university employees had been fired following an internal investigation of misappropriation of university-provided financial aid funding.
Howard University students accuse the administration of misleading them and failing to prioritize their needs.
Students have been holding a sit-in in the administration building and have been in talks with University Board of Trustees, citing nine demands to university administration, posted at the entrance of the building.
The protest, which has become one the largest and most-organized movements for change in recent university history, began on Thursday afternoon. Students say they have received donations of money, food, and supplies during their sit-in.
Good Morning! We have entered the 3rd day of Occupation. We are thankful for the donations and everyone who is standing in solidarity with us. We are also so thankful to every student who continues to help us occupy this building and make it a safe space. #StudentPowerHU— #StudentPowerHU (@HUResist) March 31, 2018
Students leading this charge say they will continue their sit-in demonstration until the nine formal demands to university officials are fulfilled.
"I must emphasize this. We are prepared to stay for as long as it takes for all nine demands to be met. Not one, not three, not five, all nine. Because they are all essential and they are all problems on this campus that need to be addressed today," said student organizer Eric Adeyemon, a sophomore.
Protesters said that they were shutting down access to the building and were only allowing students and maintenance staff inside.
One of the demands from students includes the resignation of university President Wayne Frederick, who announced the firings on Wednesday, and said he first became aware of a possible issue in December 2016.
In a statement released late Thursday, President Frederick said he would respond to the needs of the students.
"I want you to know that I hear you, and my team and I are committed to being responsive to your needs," Frederick’s statement began.
"I am listening to you, and I am challenging my team to make the changes you are expressing a dire need to see," he continued. "In addition to that, I would like to further increase the engagement with a larger and broader portion of our student body." READ FULL STATEMENT HERE
However, organizers say they have not yet met with President Frederick.
*** EDIT ***— #StudentPowerHU (@HUResist) March 31, 2018
The press release states that we have met with President Frederick. This is an inaccuracy. We have not yet met with President Frederick. https://t.co/uswdP5lA6E
FOX 5 spoke to the student who anonymously leaked the report about the firings. The source provided FOX 5 with documents from Tyrone Hankerson, Jr., one of the people accused of improperly accepting an excess of financial aid.
The documents show that Hankerson received $78,000 in university and federal grants, some of which are listed as “need-based.” Hankerson’s story has since gone viral because of his social media posts, appearing to show off a lavish lifestyle.
Hankerson spoke publicly for the first time to journalist Roland Martin and denied any allegations of embezzling funds from the school. He believes he is "being used now as a means to get Dr. Frederick out of his current position."
Adeyemon said students are also asking for housing for all freshmen and sophomore students.
"Under the housing contract given to us by Howard University, stated that freshmen and sophomores under the age of 21 would be guaranteed housing, however, there are approximately 500 students who are still not receiving housing. We were forced to sign the contract that says we were supposed to receive housing," he told FOX 5's Tisha Lewis.
He said students are also demanding the disarmament of the entire campus police department.
"The police department is used as an intimidation department and we feel it's their presence with weapons is not necessary and we think that disarmament of them effective immediately would allow our campus to thrive," said Adeyemon.
Students also asking that the university put together a specific mission and plan to address what they describe as a rape culture on campus.
"We have an administration that has taken a passive role and doesn't seem to truly care about the effectiveness of their program, so our goal in this to ensure that these students and the victims of the rape culture on this campus have their voice heard aren't are able to have their investigations solved," said Adeyemon.