Howard University Students Hold Building Hostage

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Protesting Howard University students have occupied an administrative building on the college campus and have refused to leave unless their demands were met. The protests started when an anonymous blogger published an article alleging the misuse of tuition reimbursement funding for at least seven university employees, which was never made public last year.

The Mordecai Wyatt Johnson Administrative Building, houses the university’s policy office, board operations and other administrative offices. The building was named after the university’s first president and has had at least one protest incident prior to this past week.

In 1989, it was occupied by protesters when then-Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater was named to the board. About 2,000 protesters occupied the building for three days and forced the resignation of Atwater, over allegations that he ran a racially-tinged presidential campaign for George H.W. Bush. Another demand by the group of protesters was processing federal financial student aid faster to help their students meet their budgets.

So far, this group of protesters have occupied the building for four days and have made the following demands:
• Resignation of Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick and the board’s executive committee members
• Disarming campus police officers
• Student involvement in hiring and firing decisions
• End to “unsubstantiated tuition hikes”
• Affordable student housing
The complete list of demands can be found here.

Local news reported that about 350 protesters have occupied the building and met with two board of trustee members on Friday. The meeting was unproductive, according to the protesters, because the members were unfamiliar with the protesters’ long list of demands.

A more productive meeting occurred, the protesters said, when eight trustees met with the protesters in the building on Saturday morning. The university president has yet to meet with the students.