Howard University, a historically black university, was established in 1867. Like most HBCUs, it was created to serve the black community in a world before the civil rights movement, when African Americans were considered inferior and incapable of learning.
A little bit about Howard University from its Wikipedia page:
Howard is classified as a Tier 1 national university and ranks second among HBCUs by S. News & World Report. Howard is the only HBCU ranked in the top 75 on the 2015 Bloomberg Businessweek college rankings. The Princeton Review ranked the school of business first in opportunities for minority students and in the top five for most competitive students. The National Law Journal ranked the law school among the top 25 in the nation for placing graduates at the most successful law firms. Howard has produced four Rhodes Scholars between 1986 and 2017. Between 1998 and 2009, Howard University produced a Marshall Scholar, two Truman Scholars, twenty-two Fulbright Scholars and ten Pickering Fellows. In 2011, the Huffington Post named Howard the second best-dressed college in the nation. Howard is the most comprehensive HBCU in the nation and produces the most black doctorate recipients of any non-profit university.
Notable alumni are Elijah Cummings, Debbie Allen and Ta-Nehisi Coates, along with many, many others. It, along with the other HBCU, has been a staple in the black community and given many opportunities to students who might not otherwise get them.
So, it was unfortunate when a huge scandal involving Howard broke last week, involving financial abuses. According to reports, university employees working in the financial aid department have been misappropriating funds for the past nine years. In short, employees enrolled as students awarded themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars. Apparently, they awarded themselves two benefits when they were only supposed to receive one. One is tuition remission, which waives tuition costs for employees who are enrolled in university classes, while the other benefit was a university grant. Combined, the two benefits added up to more than the cost of attendance, which resulted in the employees receiving improper refunds.
One student Tyrone Hankerson Jr., who is accused of taking over $429,000 for himself, at the front-and-center of scandal. Hankerson was pretty blatant about too, bragging about it on social media. His now-private Instagram showed off expensive tastes from designer accessories, clothes and cars to professional photo shoots and traveling abroad.
a lot of this Tyrone situation is wild and not worth joking on but please believe me when I say the caption of "another semester down, another bag secured" left me BREATHLESS with laughter pic.twitter.com/SqEIywl9vg
— Hanif Abdurraqib (@NifMuhammad) March 28, 2018
This man stole $429,000 in Financial Aid at Howard y’all
Tyrone Hankerson, a student-employee in the Financial Aid office. Set to graduate! & Got caught
This the iconic photo we found on his Facebook😭😭✊🏾
Mink Coat, Designer Bag, the FINESSE GOD TYRONE ☠️☠️I am DEAD pic.twitter.com/PQrYQaPXzJ
— Lew Sid (@LewSidRaps) March 28, 2018
— Gossip Girl 😉 (@miss_boombostic) March 28, 2018
Hankerson has maintained that when the dust settles, he’ll be proven innocent and have done everything by the book. It’s good to stay optimistic when your world is spiraling, but Hankerson needs to seriously lawyer up. This is no longer petty theft, and if he’s found guilty, he’s facing massive penalties, felonies and jail time.
The money that these employees took would have gone to low-income students who, you know, actually need the money for their education. College tuition is insane to say nothing of ridiculousness, due to the cost of books, supplies, dorm fees if you live on campus, and all the other small amounts of money that add up over time. Then, there’s the added stress of how much money a student will even get, when it will come and if they’ll be dropped from all of their much-needed-to-graduate classes before that check hits. While the issues within the American education system is another story, most students are at the mercy of financial aid and whether they are willing to work with you or not or if the financial aid person is feeling particularly generous that day (it’s like this with all government workers). And then news comes out that the grant a student was denied for…. was self-awarded to the very people that are supposed to be helping them. Students are upset, to say the least.
Following news of the scandal, Howard University students have presented a list of demands to the university administrators, among them being an “immediate end to unsubstantiated tuition hikes”, as well as transparency to the administrators’ salaries. They are also demanding that Howard “implements a grievance system to hold faculty and administrators accountable” as well asking the university to start “actively fight against rape culture and sexual assault” on campus. The list of demands are not unreasonable and you can read the rest here, but so far the school has met only one. The problem is that the university president, Wayne A.I. Frederick, did confirm that the non-federally funded grants were given to employees and wrote a letter in full support of the university staff and faculty. While he did meet with some students, a lot of the protesters have tweeted that he’s not meeting with them, nor have they heard anything from him in the days they’ve been protesting.
This is a complete mess made even more upsetting by the fact that the people taking advantage of the majority-black college students are the same people in said student’s community. It’s disheartening to see your own community working against you. Hopefully, the students find a satisfying solution.