Six Howard University employees were fired after stealing nearly $1 million in financial aid funds over almost a decade, according to the Washington Post.
The employees who received tuition benefits to attend classes at the university gave themselves falsified scholarships through university grants, which, in total, exceeded the cost of attendance. An anonymous author released records on the Medium alleging that employees at the prestigious historically-black university had stolen nearly $1 million in grants between 2007 and 2016. The post, which was published on March 27, has since been taken off the website. After the report was published, the Howard University President Wayne Frederick, released a statement confirming the scandal.
Although it was only recently revealed, Howard University administrators conducted an internal investigation that was completed in September 2017, resulting in the termination of six financial aid employees for “gross misconduct and neglect of duties.” Frederick said this case was referred for criminal prosecution.
Two days after the announcement of the scandal, students petitioned for change on Howard's campus. They called for students to have more administrative power, the hiring of more school counselors, the disarmament of campus police, and the resignation of the university’s president along with the board of trustees.
Hundreds of students protested on the university’s campus, occupying the school’s administration building and refusing to leave until the school agreed to meet their demands. The protest was one of the largest and most organized student movements the university has seen in recent history.
Despite the eruption of protests, Howard University still operated on a normal schedule. Protest organizers, however, asked students to skip classes and continue participating in sit-ins.
"If we can shut down the functionality of the university, they’ll shut down all classes and processes," Juan Demetrixx, one of the protest organizers and a Howard University senior, said at a news conference.
Frederick expressed his intention to work with the students and implement their demands.
"I am listening to you, and I am challenging my team to make the changes you are expressing a dire need to see," Frederick said. "In addition to that, I would like to further increase the engagement with a larger and broader portion of our student body.”
Despite these claims, protest organizers continue to demand Frederick's resignation.
Other educational institutions have also been associated with cases of financial scandals and misappropriation. In 2016, an employee at a post-secondary school in Baltimore was found guilty of pocketing more than 40 students’ loan payments. In November 2017, three women in Ohio were convicted for stealing $1.8 million from the Department of Education. At Columbia University in January 2018, a former financial aid director was arrested for accepting bribes in exchange for granting students financial aid.
"This isn't something outlandish or wild that we're asking for,” Jade Agudosi, president of the Howard University Student Association, told the Washington Post. “We're asking for them to be transparent about what they're doing with our money."
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