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President Goes Down the List, Addresses Demands

Campus Editor

Published: Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Updated: Wednesday, September 9, 2009 08:09


In an effort to address the student demands raised during the protest, President Sidney A. Ribeau and Interim Provost and Chief Academic Officer Alvin Thornton sat down  with The Hilltop to go through each presented demand.

Demand:  Hours of the  Financial Aid office should be immediately extended until 7 p.m. until the set purge date with staff (i.e. certified financial aid officers and managers) in place to render quality customer service and to serve the unusually large number of students who have yet to be validated.

Response: "That's something that I agree with and will, in fact, do," Ribeau said.

Thornton said even before students raised the concern, this issue was a priority. He said that the office will be open from 8:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. until the set purge date. He said additional staff people will be needed, but they have agreed to move a substantial part of the operation back to the Amour J. Blackburn Center.

Ribeau said this move will be completed by Friday. "It's not easy, but that's what we're going to do."

Demand: 24-hour, 7-day a week access to the Undergraduate Library and Founders Library, as well as significant capital improvements and renovations to Founders Library and Undergraduate Library.

Response: According to Ribeau, studies have been conducted to show there is not a demand for 24-hour, 7-day-a-week libraries. He said the university cannot afford to keep them open all the time when the demand is not there. However, he said if there is a substantial demand, then the university will find a way to do it.

Demand: A student-accessible, consistently updated, itemized budget.

Response: According to Ribeau, that is already available to  students. The budget is available online via http://www.provost.howard.edu/HUBudgetProcess.asp. Ribeau said, previously, no one knew where the money was being allocated or how the money was generated, but it is transparent as of last semester.

Demand: Expand university technology platform to include Google Apps for Education (free e-mail, calendar, documents, spreadsheets, etc.) – a proposal student leaders submitted two months ago [Google Apps for Education].

Response: The Senior Vice President Strategic Planning, Operations & External Affairs & Chief Technology Officer Hassan Minor was on leave at the time the proposal was presented, but he has returned. He will meet with School of Business President Jewel Burks, Undergraduate Student Trustee Nnamdi Anozie, who presented the proposal, and whoever else, according to Ribeau. Ribeau was not able to comment on the specifics because he cannot verify that we have the capabilities or the necessary infrastructure for these programs. He expects those questions to be resolved at that meeting.

Demand: Immediate resignation of executive leadership in the Office of Student Affairs for reasons including, but not limited to, intimidation of students, unprofessionalism, infringing upon students' First Amendment Rights and not adhering to the Howard University Employee Code of Conduct.

Response: Ribeau said if in fact these allegations are true, then they need to be brought to the attention of Thornton, who resides over the Office of Student Affairs. "Everybody is entitled to due process," he said.

Thornton said a formal grievance must be filed; It cannot be innuendo or hearsay. People must have their day in court before action is taken, he said.

Demand: Immediate evaluation and reorganization of Howard University Judiciary process to include students to be facilitated by the Office of Special Student Services in collaboration with HUSA.

Response: According to Thornton, students already have the option of having their case heard before their peers, faculty, staff and students, or a judicial review board.

Demand: Expedite the process of hiring both a permanent provost and vice president of Student Affairs; Interim periods should be limited to six months.

Response: The search for the provost and vice president of student affairs will conclude in December of 2009. A provost will be in place in January, Ribeau said. He also said there will be another opportunity for students to meet the candidates, but the previous candidates did not have the right combination of qualities for this university as it is right now. He said that it is a mixture of managerial skills, disciplinary expertise, timing and knowledge of the judicial process.

Demand: All handicap entrances and elevators need to be updated and made compliant with the Federal ADA Standards.

Response: "This is a work in progress," Ribeau said. Locke Hall has been completed and Douglass Hall and the C.B. Powell buildings are under construction. He said that Physical Facilities Management has identified the areas that need improvement and will work upon those areas as funds become available.

Demand: Establishment of a Student Advisory Committee for the Office of Student Financial Services with student evaluation of entire Office of Financial Services to ensure staff competence and transparency.

Response: Ribeau said this is not something that he had previously given much thought.He is considering establishing the committee, but more thought about the feasibility and implementation needs to be discussed before it can come to fruition. Philosophically, he said he doesn't believe that the university should be run by a singular group. Howard will succeed or fail based on the people at Howard, he said.

Demand: Establish wireless connectivity for the entire campus with an operational date of no later than Nov. 1, 2009. (In the 21st century it is imperative that this university is technologically adept, and the last stand is a wireless campus.)

Response: "We don't have the  money right now," Ribeau said. He said that each academic year they try to do a little more, such as the School of Dentistry receiving wireless this year. He said that the need for wireless Internet capabilities competes with the needs for dorms, facility upgrades and other issues.

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18 comments

ShanaInDC
Fri Sep 11 2009 10:00
I'm beginning to think that Howard University IS NOT a well oiled shipped. And it would not/should not be difficult to get us on course. I believe that there is a truth untold and will continue to be untold. There is something behind the veil that we will never know. I believe that because it makes NO SENSE for students to protest the same things that were protested 20 yrs ago, and even 40 years ago. Check our the history of the university, every generation has had their fair share of unmet demands. If Howard's purpose is to educate the students, then the environment should be such that the students are in a learning facility and environment that is condusive for them. As alum, we need to step up to the plate and hold the university more accountable so that the next generation will not face the same.
Roland Corsey
Thu Sep 10 2009 16:17
It is very refreshing to discover that Howard students are still wise enough to protest less than stellar treatment by the university. You students join a fine tradition. Howard was the first university of record to demonstrate in the mid 1960's, around conditions of student issues, university worker issues, and the Vietnam war. The demonstrations were led by Ewart Brown, the current Premier of Bermuda. As a student, Dr. Brown (BS & MD-Howard), participated in taking over the administration building in 1966. You student protesters are destined for great things if you follow the lead of Dr. Brown who had a distinguished career as a Doctor in LA, and may still be a trustee on the Howard governing board. Contact him. He should be sympathetic to your cause. Also see his interview by Cathy Hughes, the owner of TV1 and Radio One, and the former general manager of WHUR. I was an engineering student back in the 1960's and we made Howard a better university by protesting.
ALL SOULS RISING
Thu Sep 10 2009 06:03
When we wonder why:
• Howard has no money to assist needy students with Financial Aid
• Howard has no money to fix its decaying buildings
• Howard has no money to put adequate technology in its classrooms
• Howard has no money to provide wireless service throughout campus
• Howard has no money for its band, athletic teams, etc.

We must train our eye, our lens of inspection upon Howard University’s Office of University Advancement. The Office of University Advancement supposedly claimed that they raised $250,000,000 million dollars in the Capital Campaign under President Swygert’s tenure. Where is this money?

T. Black
Wed Sep 9 2009 18:35
The budget is Definitely NOT accessible...I just tried to use it and it is not up there.
RJ Carter
Wed Sep 9 2009 16:44
Yup, there is no way to see the way funds are allocated on the website the prez gave. It is said that they want us to have a world class education but we don't have things that you can find at most community colleges. To be honest, I sort of wish I went to UMD now, half the tuition, twice the administrative help, and twice the amount of programs. My folks went to HU and my oldest brother, and I love HU with all my heart but the university is truly giving us second rate housing, programs, and aministration!
lb
Wed Sep 9 2009 16:43
I'm sorry but his responses were very borderline. We' working on it; we can't afford it; I'll have to check my sources. Real politics at work. He needs to do more than answer questions, anybody can do that. I need to see some accountability. I graduated from Howard and I loved my experience despite these same ol complaints, but if nothing changes, I will not promote Howard to my son. Enough is enough.
shocked
Wed Sep 9 2009 15:22
These comments are so revealing! To KS--the person who thinks a recycling program is "Petty": Good Lord, what planet are you living on? This is a priority everywhere. Just because this is a black school doesn't mean we are not supposed to know about sustainable communities and saving the planet! I am appalled at this ignorance. Most colleges have had recycling programs for YEARS.
DNA
Wed Sep 9 2009 14:22
Ribeau is bullsh*ting us when he says that the budget is available online at www.provost.howard.edu/HUBudgeProcess.asp. That's so damn deceitful, there is no way by going to that site that you can see where and how much money is allocated.
Mr. Jackson
Wed Sep 9 2009 14:01
Is that Clarence Thomas blaming the students for being students and and for asking Howard University to join the rest of the world. It bothers me to see an alumni accuse students for demanding a quality college experience. We had to do the same thing back in 1981-2. What's wrong with students being energized. Thank God for activism. The students are taking responsibility in case you didn't notice. When you start using words like disgusting when mentioning Howard students, then I have to wonder if you really went to Howard. One thing we can not do is despise our young Howard brothers and sisters. They are in college to learn and grow up. Maybe we need stock with google. All things are possible. I think it's a great idea and something that can come to fruition with innovation. Lift up the Bison. We are Howard University and we have no reason to apologize because we go to, or went to the most recognized and influential HBCU. Viva the revolution young Howard brothers and sisters. Keep fighting for perfection. Thank God for students that will not accept mediocrity.
Mr. Jackson
Wed Sep 9 2009 14:01
Is that Clarence Thomas blaming the students for being students and and for asking Howard University to join the rest of the world. It bothers me to see an alumni accuse students for demanding a quality college experience. We had to do the same thing back in 1981-2. What's wrong with students being energized. Thank God for activism. The students are taking responsibility in case you didn't notice. When you start using words like disgusting when mentioning Howard students, then I have to wonder if you really went to Howard. One thing we can not do is despise our young Howard brothers and sisters. They are in college to learn and grow up. Maybe we need stock with google. All things are possible. I think it's a great idea and something that can come to fruition with innovation. Lift up the Bison. We are Howard University and we have no reason to apologize because we go to, or went to the most recognized and influential HBCU. Viva the revolution young Howard brothers and sisters. Keep fighting for perfection. Thank God for students that will not accept mediocrity.
LG
Wed Sep 9 2009 13:53
As a parent of a junior at Howard, I am very happy that the students took control of the situaiton. I live in another state and have in the past dealt with the office of financial services on numerous occassions. I must agree with the students, and you cannot not take anything for granted. I mention that several things has happened, my son lost a scholarship to an outside source which needed his award letter, come to find out, his file had been completely lost and the deadline had past. Of course I called Dr. Alvin Thorton to report ordeal, his lost scholarship was replaced with another scholarship from the school. The person that handled my son's file is no longer in the financial aid department.. His fasa is fill out in Januray, so therefore, I know that there is time to complete his packet on time. financial services does not answer the phone. I can call everyone in the office and not one person answers nor do they return phone calls. Everyone seems to pass the responsibility to the next person. It was unreal what we had to go through. I wish this on no one. His fasa is filled out the end of January every year. No one has ever been rude to me, because I will not accept it. You must demand respect from the university. I like the idea of financial services being open to 7 pm until everyone is validated, they could also be open on Saturday morning until about 1:00 pm. I graduated from a university that is open those hours--- and it works. We must remember, we are accomodating the students.

I understand that the school has a huge deficit, but the students are not responsible for this. My question is----why cut staff in financial services. In addition, howard offers early retirement and quite staff accepted the offer. Students stay stron and of course you must do everything that you need to do and exhaust every avenue. Remember do your part.

I must give Howard its props, the networking in my son's field has been great. He has gotten to meet some wonderful people and I am sure that he left a great impresstion in their hearts.

Concerned student
Wed Sep 9 2009 13:11
What ever happened to the rest of the demands? When will thoses get addressed? For example, housing. What about the demand to have a proposal for campus housing? That's a major issue that needs be addressed.
ks
Wed Sep 9 2009 12:20
Marcus the offices that validate; Enroll Mgmt, have nothing to do with the departments that create the scholarships. It must be process and denoted in the system as some form of pending aid. That's on the schools, departments, and sponsors. The promise of funding may have been secured but proper financial transfer procedures must be completed in other departments outside of fin aid and enrollment management. This could be a case of targeting the wrong sources.

AnotherHUman - Howard doesn't have the decency to respond? So, Ribeau's straight forward answers are an example of "dodging"? You're kidding me right?

Marcus
Wed Sep 9 2009 11:42
In response to ks, the scholarship situation isn't as simple as you may think. Although it may seem like the blame falls on the students, that is hardly the case. I am a graduate student and I had a 100% full ride to HU, but every semester I've been at HU, I've struggled with being validated because my paperwork was sitting on someone's desk. A contract was signed with the university that they are obligated to pay my tuition & fees, yet they still penalized me for not having my classes paid for on time, by either adding late fees or threatening to purge my classes. If you staff cannot handle the paperwork in a timely manner, then they should be at fault and not the students. Students that have full-rides should not have to go to financial aid worrying if they will have their classes purged. This university should make special note of those students on full scholarships and accommodate those individuals. And I will agree some of these demands may be a bit picky, but there should be a compromise. For example, as far as the libraries, at least one of those libraries should be 24/7. The budget report should be discussed in an open forum and discussed so students better understand where this university stands financially, and Ribeau and his administration needs to pay more attention to the demands of the students because this isn't the first time these topics came up and it won't be the last.
another HUman
Wed Sep 9 2009 11:16
I too find that many of these responses are what student leaders have been receiving from the university for years. They dance around the questions and make projections or they say that its in progress, clearly it isn't or we wouldn't be having this issue, and if it is in progress a better effort needs to be made to keep students in the loop. Im disappointed with the responses that were given. I want dates, figures, and contact information for the point people who will head these initiatives so that we can hold them accountable too. This was not a protest against Ribeau.... yet, however I can see that If he falls into the ways of other senior level admins at Howard students may demand his resignation as well. Things like financial aid being extended is something they "will do" but when... before or after students are shipped home because they were purged. How long is going to take for handicap rights organizations to get involved in demonstrating on campus? Galludet is just around the corner... hopefully "when funds become available" they won't feel the need to do so. An itemized budget is available now? Great...who was the university going to notify that this was available? and do we even believe in this budget? Howard has come to a point where students are making proposals for a university that they don't want to see fail and they don't even have the decency to respond. Does HU still believe in its most valuable asset, does HU even respect us? I'm not trying to raise more questions or a new list of demands because I'm tired of talking about. The time to take action is NOW.
Howard Alum
Wed Sep 9 2009 10:52
I respect the President for addressing the demands; however this is just the beginning. Students you must meet with the President to establish an on going dialogue for change in order to ensure that change actual happens. Everyone must be accountable and participate in moving Howard forward. fwpe
ks
Wed Sep 9 2009 10:52
The President did a excellent job in responding to the concerns. Some of the student demands weren't well thought out and borders pettiness. God bless them...but ,recycling? Google Apps? Do the students have stock with Google or something? Having scholarships and not being able to get validated must mean an "old" past due bill or a scholarship that doesn't cover enough of the total cost. Duh? I think the same ole tired charges of "the fin aid office lost my papers" is about as outdated as "the dog ate my homework". I'm not buying it. It's disgusting to see students showing up in August to handle fin aid business that STUDENTS should have done in February. Seems like the students just want to be energized. I wish it could be directed at something other than the "A Building" but, it's all healthy in the long run.
MD
Wed Sep 9 2009 09:30
It truly amazes me as a former employee and alumnus of the University that students keep asking for the same things and the Administrations keeps feeding them the same bs. In order for things to truly move forward, you need to get ride of all those individuals who have been there for years and aren't doing anything. It only seems as if they want to keep those who don't do anything and get rid of those that do come to work and do a great job. Now, as students...some of individuals don't responsibility for there own actions, but will be the first to cast blame on the administration for not doing what they were suppose to do. We are all to blame...take responsibility before you start to point the finger at others.




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