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Howard U. Students Take To The Streets to Protest Inaction on Campus Rape

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by C. Imani Williams

Students at Howard University took to the streets Tuesday afternoon to protest the D.C. University’s slow response to a rape that took place in a campus residence hall February 8. The assault was allegedly perpetrated by another student who also works as a residential advisor (RA).

According to WUSA9, University officials state a report was filed with Metropolitan D.C. police but they are unable to provide further comment as the incident is under investigation.
Just prior to the street protest, a large gathering of students met Tuesday in the lobby of College Hall South where the assault took place. Filled to capacity, some students stood against walls with others taking seats on the floor. Students aligned in efforts to make their concerns public after repeatedly trying to work with residential life staff to express grievances and pursue workable solutions.

Without answering questions or addressing issues, CHS staff shut the building down because students were occupying the space. Students feel they have been blown off and disrespected as female students and viable campus entities. The women are very concerned that the alleged perpetrator continues to work on campus in a dorm where he has charge over female residents. As many as 250 students marched down Georgia Ave chanting, “No Means No! No means No!“

For Harriet talked with Tiffany E. Brockington, a fifth year Senior Political Science major and Africana Studies minor from Detroit who shared,

“I was a little surprised that so many people came out to be honest. A few minutes before I left my own dorm (the Quad), there was another girl who said she wasn't going because this has nothing to do with her. And I was dumbfounded because this concerns us all. If any man has the inclination to think this type of behavior is acceptable and that he won't be penalized for it, he'll do it. Then: we are all in danger. There was one part of the protest that I thoroughly dislike. We were supposed to take over Georgia Avenue; however, our Campus Police and Metropolitan DC Police started telling us that if we left campus, then we would be arrested. This discouraged a lot of people. There were seasoned activists there yesterday correcting them and trying to redirect our efforts so we could go on and be "felt." But it didn't work that way. Overall, the climate today is one of annoyance, pins and needles. Generally, folk aren't satisfied with either of the University's responses. Things are still developing and if there is another movement, I'm confident that it'll be what the first one wasn't: pure movement and no concessions made by us through manipulation by Howard Police or MPD.”

In response to the protest Howard officials released a statement yesterday on Title IX Violation:

Howard University Statement

Washington, D.C., (March 22, 2016)- There has been an allegation of sexual assault committed by a Howard University student against another Howard student. The University administration is aware of the allegation and took immediate action as soon as we learned of this matter. Several tweets were posted today about the incident. While we are not able to discuss the specifics of any ongoing investigation, we are and have been actively investigating all reports that have been made to us. These cases cannot be adjudicated through social media without compromising the integrity of the investigation.

Howard University takes matters of sexual assault very seriously. As part of our commitment to a safe campus environment, we continue to refine and enhance our Title IX protocols and procedures consistent with best practices and federal regulations. This is further supported with ongoing prevention education, collaboration, training and campus engagement.

Students in need of confidential university resources or support are encouraged to contact: Howard University Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program at tbent-goodley@howard.edu or (202) 238-2382 or Howard University Counseling Services at (202) 806-6870. To file a complaint, students can contact Ms. Candi Smiley, Deputy Title IX Coordinator at candi.smiley@howard.edu or (202) 806-2550 campussafetyfirst.howard.edu.

Students have compiled a list of demands they want addressed immediately. The demands coincide with the upcoming “Take Back The Night” rally where students and community members gather to bring attention to rape culture and support students who have suffered sexual violence. The rallies take place in over 30 countries around the world with many welcoming male allies. The events have been successful in creating a safe space and support for rape and assault survivors.


Students have a right to feel safe on campus. For freshman and sophomore students mandatory workshops on safety take place each fall. The slow movement of university administrators to provide clarification and reinforcement that safety is a priority is problematic. The issue isn’t germane to Howard. Safety and addressing rape culture is a concern across the country.

Photo: WUSA9

C. Imani Williams is a human rights and social justice activist. She writes to empower and give voice to those silenced through systematic oppression and white supremacy. Her work has appeared in Between the Lines, Michigan Citizen, Tucson Weekly, Harlem Times, Dope Magazine and various news and popular culture blogs. Imani is a contributing writer with For Harriet. Follow the unapologetically black political culture critic @ https://twitter.com/Imaniwms 

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