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An Open Letter to Howard Students

By: Taiyler Mitchell, Life+Style Reporter (@taivlersimone)

To my homies and associates; to my Twitter and Instagram followers; to the guy who sits two seats over in my 2 p.m. class and the girl who walks by and smiles at me when I’m walking to my 8 a.m. class; to the residents of my dorm and to those who live off campus; to HU18, HU19, HU20, HU21 and anyone else who attends Howard:

This is me calling you out.

This is not a complaint about the problematic and superficial social components of Howard. It’s not about the fallacies and deficiencies of Howard administration. This is about the shortcomings of the students themselves. I have to ask: Where is your passion? Where is your drive?

Is it shoved underneath the pile of issues you have with administration or financial aid?  Has it been on hold while you raise your falling grades? Is it in the bed of the person whose room you left last night—or rather, early this morning? Did you leave it in the bottle you drank over the weekend or in the roach you left on The Yard after class on Friday?

I don’t care where it is—neither do the victims of the recent hurricanes and earthquakes. Neither do the legends and history-makers that have attended our University. Neither do the people paying for your tuition–whether it be your parents or the people behind your loans, scholarships, or grants. Just find it. Find your passion. Find your drive. Then, find a way to use it in truth and service.

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In the words of my political science professor, Dr. McCalester, and ultimately the inspiration behind this piece, “Passion without knowledge looks crazy from afar.”  About two weeks ago, the world watched HUResist protest former FBI Director James Comey at Opening Convocation. National and international news outlets covered this story, including CNN, Washington Post, BBC, and NPR, to name a few. Each of the news outlets saw angry black kids who hate white people and the FBI. While the action was very much appreciated by some of the Howard student and staff populations, the protest was misread by some who knew considerably less about the situation.  

It was the job of HUResist to inform the uneducated. Without doing so, they may have been perceived as foolish or unknowledgeable–which makes for easy dismissal.

HUResist had a short amount of time to say everything they wanted during Convocation and it wasn’t enough to inform an audience who did not read the Twitter threads, the flyers or the handouts on the very real problem that is James Comey robed in the Howard University emblem.

The uninformed only heard a chant that asserted HUResist’s blackness to a black audience—preaching to the choir.  The national and international news outlets that covered the story received one line: “Get out James Comey—you’re not our homey!” Is that all we’ve got?

How can we use this platform to better the condition of Howard, or to a greater degree, better the condition of those outside of Howard who need it? We can propose that students volunteer in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Croix for Alternative Spring Break.  We can raise awareness about gun control in light of the recent terrorist attack in Las Vegas. The possibilities are endless.

If you are not doing all that you can to live in truth and service, then your reasoning behind attending the illustrious Howard University is lackluster and uninspired at best.  Whether it be recreating the 1968 sit-in at the Mordecai Wyatt Johnson Administration Building as a catalyst to fix the problems on campus or deciding to start a campaign and send books, clothing, food, hygiene products and our students in an attempt to assist Puerto Rico, Mexico and other nearby countries in need of help, I challenge you to rise to the occasion.  

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Take whatever skills, interests and ideas you possess and use them in truth and service.

In frustration, and awaiting change,

Another Howard University Student



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