By Kai Sinclair, Staff Writer
Posted 2:30 AM EST, Sat., Feb. 25, 2017
Howard University is no stranger to student-operated movements that leave lasting effects on the institution. The 1968 student protests led to the establishment of the Afro-American studies curriculum. The 1989 protests brought on improvements to be made in financial aid programs and campus buildings and that Lee Atwater, the Republican national chairman, resign from Howard’s Board of Trustees.
Last week, a group known as Concerned Students 1867 made fellow university students and administration aware of their desire to continue the spirit of student activism. The group released a list of six demands on Feb. 12, including a call for President Wayne Frederick and Howard to “ban” U.S. President Donald Trump from university buildings.
The movement began after rumors surfaced of a possible executive order coming from Trump that would target historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). After hearing of the initiative led by Howard alumna and Trump administration member, Omarosa Manigault, many students felt that something had to be done to keep Howard out of it.
“We stood in opposition to that and decided to write a document that would basically prevent President Frederick from being able to have Donald Trump on campus and to prevent him from making HBCUs the token in the Trump administration,” said Johnathan Saffold, a freshman Afro-American Studies major.
On Feb. 13, the students held a rally at the flagpole and raised a “resist” banner, then marched to the administration building to deliver a physical copy of the demands to President Frederick where they were met with campus police.
Shortly after the release of the demands, Calvin Hadley, Howard’s student ombudsperson, reached out to Concerned Students, 1867 to establish a meeting time with Frederick that Wednesday morning. In the meeting, which was livestreamed on Periscope, a group of 10 students further clarified the group’s demands.
While the document demanded that Howard “deny Immigration and Customs Enforcement access to students’ immigration and citizenship status,” the organizers explained that they simply want to ensure that students’ information has not been and will not be volunteered to ICE officials, something that the university claims to already practice.
“We don’t volunteer information, and we don’t produce students to the federal government unless there is a court order,” Frederick said during the meeting.
The students also fielded questions about banning Trump from campus. They explained that they don’t expect Frederick to instate a legal ban on the country’s president, but they did intend to use his rhetoric in regards to the Muslim ban against him.
“This is not a ban on conversation or interaction, this is simply a ban on coming into this sanctity of our space,” said Durmerrick Ross, a freshman political science major. “If he would like to have a conversation or interaction or engagement with us, we are not opposed to him inviting us to the White House. We are not opposed to him renting out a convention center.”
Concerned Students 1867 have received an outpouring of support and interest from students and alumni through two town hall meetings and under the hashtag, #HUResist, on Twitter. But, not all are in agreement with the movement.
“Since you guys have written, students who have a very different opinion from you have also written with a very different perspective. Those are students at Howard University, as well,” Frederick said in the meeting with the student organizers. “Everybody is going to have a difference of opinion, and I have to respect that.”