Words by Kaela Shelby
Students at Hampton University are refusing to be silenced.
After a list of issues voiced to the school’s administration at a town hall meeting on Feb. 20 were minimalized and disregarded, students began to protest to garner their attention. Included in their list of grievances was safety, the lack of maintenance of campus facilities and a prevalence of unpunished sexual assault. With the HBCU known as the “Black Ivy League,” coming third only to Spelman College and Howard University on the list of the best HBCU’s in the nation, students are responding to what they feel is a campus culture that does not reflect the school’s status. For one, the campus’ nonworking lights and call stations are a major issue for students who fear that the greatest safety precautions are not being taken to protect students. One student, a graduating senior, said:
“Many of [the lights and emergency stations around campus]—I’m standing in front of one of the emergency stations right now—just don’t work.”
Additionally, although freshmen are required to take a University 101 course that teaches about topics such as test anxiety, personal finance, and the value of higher education, these topics do not adequately address issues like sexual misconduct. For comparison, since 2014 Howard University has required its students to take training on Title IX, the law that protects against sexual discrimination at institutions that collect federal funding. Meanwhile, the coordinator for Hampton’s Title IX program is none other than the president of the University’s daughter, leaving students to wonder about how important finding the best person for the position is to the school.
The school has also had complaints about the campus cafeteria’s health code, with pictures on social media of molded bread and rotted paints showcasing the cause of the complaints.
The school released a list of proposed solutions to the issues voice at the town hall meeting, but, fearing that this was a ploy to sweep the conversation under the rug like it has been in the past, students hit back with their own list of solutions and a silent march through the campus.
All eyes are on the University’s president and administration to see what how they will effectively address the students’ mounting disdain.