Using Your Voice: Howard Students Protest Against Poor Housing Conditions

by Kianna Goss

When students work together, real change can happen.

On October 12, 2021, students from Howard University began protesting at the school’s Blackburn University center for better housing conditions. Since the start of the fall semester, students have been raising concerns about mold in the dorm rooms and the lack of COVID-19 testing, according to Jonathan Franklin, a journalist for NPR.

Howard Vice President of student affairs tweeted that the well-being of their students is their top concern. Howard’s board of trustees said that they are taking the concerns of their students seriously and are welcome to all viewpoints from Howard students.

One student, @ReddisAri, posted a photo on Twitter of black mold found in the bathroom. This user also posted a video with the hashtag #Blackburntakeover, to highlight the protest by students sitting-in until Howard meets their demands. Searching this hashtag shows more content and provides updates from the students on how the problems are still not solved.

Some tweets mentioned how the students believe the university was attempting to freeze them out of the Blackburn building to end their protest because the thermostat was cut off. A few students even slept on the ground in front of the university because administrators would not speak to them. 

Being a college student myself, these living conditions are unacceptable. We pour money into our universities and expect to receive a quality education and good housing conditions in return. When students raise concerns and the administrators don’t respond, it makes the university look money hungry.  

The social media strategies the students are using are smart because social media is a great tool to increase awareness—especially with a university. When issues like this occur, it puts more pressure behind the board of a university to fix the issues. Strategies like using hashtags helps individuals find out more information about the issue at hand. 

However, when protesting, university students must take precautions. Here are a few suggestions for a successful and safe protest from the University of Michigan:

  1. Learn your rights. You must know how to handle yourself if police become involved. 

2. Carry a first aid kit. If the protest changes and becomes violent, it is important to have bandages or items to help anyone that is hurt. 

3. Bring food and water. During a protest you may not be able to use resources around the facility. 

Overall, the most powerful tool you can use is your voice. When issues occur on your campus, students should feel comfortable speaking up. After a month of protesting, Dr. Frederick, the university’s president, released a video message addressing how the school would improve housing conditions.     

About Kianna Goss

Kianna Goss is a senior at Bradley University, majoring in journalism with a double minor in sociology and advertising with public relations. The importance of community involvement is to use your voice. Kianna’s voice is one of the strongest platforms she has, and utilizes it through her writing. Being a Black woman, Kianna often writes to give a voice to the Black community to gain control over the media that portrays them in a negative way. Kianna is a writer with different form expressions. She has written poetically, through blogs, newspapers, and opinion pieces. Kianna always looks for more opportunities to grow as a writer and person. Kianna is currently the social media director for Her Campus, works as a peer mentor for Bradley’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and is a team leader/caller at the Bradley Fund. Being able to explore her creativity is what she loves most about Bradley. The Communications department is molding her into the journalist she aspires to be.

Art by Aryanne Westfall

Ary Westfall is a junior Interactive Media major and Theatre Arts minor attending Bradley University. She is the social media manager for DAT, creates webcomics in her free time, and enjoys all forms of sequential art. Ary hopes to break into the comic world or find work in pre-production art for television.