While the expectations of the first year of college tend to be linked to independence and new opportunities, Chandler Robinson, a freshman at Howard University in Washington, D.C., said her expectations were much different than reality.
“I can’t lie, I definitely have been disappointed in my experience,” she said.
Robinson is one of the many students at the top-tier historically Black university who have been protesting the living conditions and educational challenges on campus for weeks.
Many students have reported to the university and shared on social media mold in the dorms, Wi-Fi connection problems, dining halls infested with rats and roaches and an unresponsive administration.
The mold problem began over the summer due to a flood on campus, Robinson told NBC News. Mold has since been identified in at least 38 dorm rooms out of 2,700 total rooms on campus, an official from Howard University confirmed to NBC News.
Several videos about conditions at Howard have gone viral on social media. Robinson posted one talking about what life has been like on campus that’s just shy of a million views on TikTok.
Robinson wasn’t able to connect to Wi-Fi for over a month and couldn’t access Blackboard, a platform colleges use for assignments and grades.
“I can’t say that I’m really being educated just because students are tired, and so is faculty. The faculty made it very clear that they are struggling also,” she said, “Being five weeks behind in my classes is very difficult. It’s very difficult to catch up.”
In response to the issues on campus, students have occupied the Blackburn University Center for nearly two weeks.
Students say they’re prepared to protest for the remainder of the school year until mold is removed from dorms, water damage repaired and expired air filters replaced.
“Everybody in here is pretty adamant on staying until our demands are met. Our demands are not demanding, they’re very simple. I feel it’s basic rights as a student based off the tuition we pay,” said Jasmine Joof, a 19-year-old sophomore.
Students say they are also protesting for additional off-campus housing for upperclassmen, and for a student affiliate to be re-added to the university’s board of trustees.
“The school is hurting its own reputation because this is a major issue,” said Joof, a sociology major. “They’re making themselves look bad.”
Joof said her reason for demonstrating is personal as the mold in her dorm room gave her respiratory issues.
“There was a point when I thought I had covid,” she said.
Howard University officials on Monday afternoon said living conditions on campus are being exaggerated.
“Our housing isn’t deplorable at all. It is nowhere near the way the students are portraying it,” Howard University vice-president of communications Frank Tramble said in an interview with NBC News
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