The Movement Moves to Maintain Campus Relevance
Published: Thursday, November 30, 2006
Updated: Saturday, August 9, 2008 23:08
The movement of frustrated students is a memory that still lives in the minds of those who attended Howard University last year. But some new students may not be aware of the movement.
Concerned students, including junior legal communications major Courtney Phelps, who simply wanted to bring to light the frustrations of the students to the Administration, created the movement last spring. When he was met with indifference, Phelps and other like-minded students wrote "The Declaration of Student Frustration," and rallied other students to join in their cause.
"There were no demands, but a simple request that it be read and acknowledged," Phelps said of the declaration.
Sophomore print journalism major Laura Perez was also involved in the movement last year. "Personally it [the movement] had special meaning to me because even though I love Howard and my experiences have been positive, when I first came to Howard I was supposed to get an academic merit scholarship," she said.
As a high school senior applying to Howard, Perez sent in her SAT test scores directly from the testing center as well as two back up copies from her school. Yet somehow the papers were never processed.
"By the time the problem was recognized, they told me they were out of money and there was nothing they could do," she said.
Frustrated, Perez still made the decision to attend Howard, but she voiced her concerns through the movement.
"The reality is that students love Howard, from the organizations we serve in to the people we meet…at the same time there are many routine happenings that leave students frustrated. So much so that some transfer schools while others walk around damning the University, proclaiming that when they graduate they're not giving Howard five dollars. That's a problem!" Phelps said.
"The movement was an opportunity for students to unite behind a common cause of informing the highest level of University authority that we are frustrated…Recently we watched and read about the frustrations that the students are having in the School of Divinity. That's something else the movement wasn't able to do -- reach out to the graduate student population here at Howard. Clearly they are frustrated as well."
The movement did succeed in being visible.
Last March, with close to 700 student signatures, a group of about 50 students gathered to declare their frustrations.
Copies of the declaration were given to the secretary of the Board of Trustees with a request that they be distributed to all the trustees.
"The administration never gave us a formal answer to our Declaration of Students' Rights," said sophomore print journalism major Jazelle Hunt, the treasurer for the movement.
"When we came back for this semester a few improvements had been made around campus, including plans for the new dorm," she said.
Phelps also agreed that changes had been made, "most notably the upgrading of classrooms in Douglass Hall." Perez would also like to see more improvements in the dormitories and administration as well the sources available to students.
"I think it is still an important cause that people care about but we need some leadership and we need to get organized again," Perez said. "The movement from last year has been disbanded."
Hunt believes the answer to frustration is in the action of the students.
"I think we, the student body, not just ‘the movement' need to become more conscious," she said. "We have to voice our concerns and dissatisfaction or else they have no reason to fix anything."
Phelps however, believes that, "for now, many of us have been promoting what we are for rather than attacking what we are against."
"The battle cry for the Administration has been to work with student government. So I'll encourage those who are most frustrated with Howard…to run for offices within student government."