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HBCUS, Students Face Unique Challenges Amid Pandemic

By Airielle Lowe, Staff Reporter

Photo courtesy of United Negro College Fund

As a result of the pandemic known as COVID-19 that struck the globe in December 2019, many people have been left displaced, flustered and in harm’s way. Perhaps one of the more overlooked groups to be struck by the disaster has been college students across America, many of which come from different backgrounds and financial situations that have made the transitions back home incredibly difficult. 

When schools first began to close back in March, many of these students posed questions concerning how all future endeavors would be handled–refunds, online schooling, transportation and access to resources unavailable at home just to name a few.

In a series of emails and released statements, Howard University is just one of many HBCUs that is attempting to make an effort to protect and provide for its students to the best of their ability. This includes the widely anticipated decision to approve optional Pass/Fail grades, a promise to issue refunds for housing and meal plans, as well as provide the necessary technology and resources for students to finish out the rest of the semester as strong as possible. But how are other HBCUs answering their student’s requests?

In a statement released on North Carolina A&T’s website, it was announced that the university would allow for a Pass/Fail option for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as issue partial refunds. The page also answers a variety of frequently asked questions regarding student work-study, summer sessions, etc. 

Many other schools follow a similar format, outlining detailed lists regarding common student concerns, information on the coronavirus itself, as well as ways students can protect themselves at home. Some universities have also addressed the cancellation of important events, such as Hampton University who released on their website a statement outlining their plans to postpone commencement for September 27. The university also addressed how students who vacated without retrieving all their items were supposed to come back and obtain them, providing dates in early May for students to return. 

Other universities are also finding ways to uplift their students as much as possible during this time of crisis. A link on Spelman College’s website brings students to #SpelmanIsUndaunted, where students, faculty, alumni and others are able to write something positive in an effort to “share uplifting words or ideas on how the campus can continue to stay connected during this time of transition.” Messages are then spread by the university through Spelman’s various communication channels.

The sudden calamity has created chaos and confusion for people globally, and now more than ever it’s imperative that not only we as a society are there for each other, but that everyone is as understanding and accommodating as possible–including universities and faculty. The rivalry between schools can be fun and amusing if in good spirit, but now is a time when students across the country should be supportive of each other, and ensure that their schools protect and provide for their future changemakers.