Howard University Students Reflect on Prospect of Campus Modernization, Funding for Future Students

By way of the prestigious university’s capital investment plan, along with donations from the likes of alumni and philanthropists, there are a number of projects set to be fulfilled at Howard University.

On March 23, Howard announced the allocations of their $785 million capital investment plan, which will entail the modernization of current campus facilities, such as the School of Education building, along with the creation of a Center for Arts and Communications, a Health Sciences Complex and a new STEM complex, according to The Dig. The three new facilities are set to be built by 2026.

The finance package contains four different funding sources, including approximately $140 million that would come from fundraising and philanthropy. Over the past few years, the university has received a number of donations, including $10 million from the Karsh Family Foundation to go towards STEM scholars in January of 2020.

In July of 2020, philanthropist Mackenzie Scott donated $40 million, which was slated to support the university’s Graduation & Retention Access to Continued Excellence (GRACE) Program. This program matches Pell Grant awards for students who receive the federal program’s maximum award amount. Additionally, the donation was cited as a gift that would supplement the development of programs dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation, according to the Washington Post.

These plans to modernize and build new campus facilities, along with these hefty gifts, come in conjunction with recent renovations to the Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall and the Undergraduate Library, which were not in operation over the previous few years. 

Although these plans to modernize the campus would be most beneficial to future students of the Mecca, current students such as junior history major Jayla Johnson look forward to the manner in which these renovations will impact the campus atmosphere.

“I think these renovations would benefit future students by creating more student centers that can allow the students to navigate college life,” Johnson said. “Also, with the renovations of old buildings, dorms and campus buildings can be updated to create a more lively atmosphere.”

In addition to updating campus facilities, Johnson believes that allocating more funding for transportation for off-campus housing and online programs would be greatly beneficial to incoming students.

“When it comes to the shuttles, they are not always on the best timing; therefore, maybe adding another one, especially to Vie or Mazza, could help a ton,” she said. “Also, funding for online programs, such as Aleks [would be helpful]. Maybe they could partner up with online sites that can help us study.”

On the other hand, other current students such as junior legal communications major Eric Azike believe that future students would greatly benefit from increased funding in the areas of financial aid and housing.

“With the rise of tuition almost every year, it should also reflect in our financial aid. A lot of people are already doing so much to attend here,” he said. “I think there is also a need to increase funding in housing because the student population is always going to increase every year, and it’s sad that the lack of housing on campus is forcing people to live 15-30 minutes away from campus and bound to a shuttle to make it to class in a timely manner.”

The university recently announced a housing project that is referred to as the “East Towers Development,” which would bring about approximately 500 new spaces for residents, over 200 underground parking spots and luxury amenities for Howard students and members of the community, according to The Hilltop. However, this project is not meant to be an addition to the student-specific residence halls.

Senior legal communications major Sabrina Ahmed is glad that the university is investing in the campus infrastructure, as she deems it to be needed for most on-campus facilities, but she also expresses how the lack of transparency surrounding the exact allocations of certain donations, along with the time that it takes to complete the updates, can at times lead to confusion. Additionally, she believes that officials should keep in mind the potential impact that these updates to infrastructure could have on the Shaw community. 

“I feel like it could potentially impact the Shaw/Howard community negatively, just like with any college,” she said. “I feel that – with concrete statistics, of course – Howard contributes greatly to the gentrification of the area, and not including the community’s voice will continue to push them out even more.”

Ahmed also emphasizes that in the realm of housing, it should be available for everyone, including upperclassmen and graduate students.

“[It’s not just that] some dorms that are far from campus, but actual sustainable housing for students [would] help them reduce overall living costs,” she said. “Dorms with more study lounges, more equipped common lounges, access to grocery stores, better gyms and workout areas– even if they’re outside courtyards. [Also,] better accessibility to campus. I think that we need to create just better living areas for all students.”

As current students continue their matriculation, and as prospective students continue choosing to attend the Mecca, there are universal hopes that the conditions on campus will continuously improve for the beloved Bison.

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