Web Accessibility Support

Statement on further commitment to student safety

  • Published Date:
  • Categories: Campus and Public Safety
  • Supporting Unit: Office of the President

Dear Howard University Community,

Last night, unruly behavior occurred near the Howard Plaza Towers residence halls. Similar to the disturbing conduct from last weekend, the participants appear to be juveniles who, per our communication with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and District of Columbia government, have been engaging in disorderly conduct across the city this summer. While we have no information or reports that any Howard University students were physically harmed, there appears to be disorderly conduct with respect to juveniles yelling, taunting, and displaying threatening behavior around the Plaza Towers last night. I want to commend our Department of Public Safety officers who ensured students had safe passage to their residence halls.  

I continue to be extremely troubled by the recent incidents that have disrupted our campus community. There is simply no need for young people, or anyone, to engage in behavior that is offensive, threatening, or harassing towards others; and we condemn any such behavior directed especially toward our students. Last week District of Columbia officials announced a pilot youth curfew targeting key areas of the city and other enhanced safety measures. We continue to have ongoing dialogue with MPD and city officials, stressing that we want to be partners in creating a safe and welcoming campus community, but we are requesting that the city become more intentional with what they intend to do to address the disorder and unruliness around our campus. We have also implemented several additional safety measures, including increased security personnel, creating a safety corridor in well-traveled areas on campus, installing 1,000 cameras around campus last academic year (and we will install 1,000 more over the coming months), and conducting a successful Safety Fair last Thursday. We will also reconstitute the Campus Safety Council this week. Additionally, Rev. Bernard L. Richardson, PhD, dean of the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel, and the chapel staff are holding a prayer vigil this evening at 9 p.m. in front of the Plaza Towers to pray for our campus community and encourage peace across our campus and the city.

I spoke to Mayor Muriel Bowser today and confirmed that she and MPD’s chief of police are focusing on and prioritizing this issue. The mayor’s administration is committed to the same things we are regarding security — with particular focus on Howard students and the entire campus community. Policing isn’t the only solution to this issue that has many factors. While MPD was present last night, we need swift resolutions to ensure the safety of our students from city enforcement. This didn’t occur last night. 

Let me be clear – in no way do we believe that these recent incidents represent all of Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, this small group of young people are conducting themselves in such a way that they are adding to a negative narrative that we do not want people to have of the community surrounding our campus or the entire city, which we know to be a treasure of our nation. 

For 156 years, Howard University has been proud to be a part of the community and to have the community be a part of who we are. Just a few days ago, we held our 10th annual Howard University Day of Service, where 1,500 Howard University students volunteered to participate in 63 service projects across the city. Our students, from first-time in school to returning upperclassmen, engaged in a variety of projects, from providing meals to those facing food insecurity to assembling furniture to create comfortable spaces for youth living in transitional housing. Service is one of the main lessons we teach our students and service is what we will continue to do. We will not let a negative culture impact our commitment to community, but we will also not stand by and allow this culture to create an environment where our students are made to feel anything less than valued and respected by any group of people without consequences.

I will continue to update you on our conversations with local government officials. We are committed to doing everything we can to keep our students safe while they are away from home, and we look forward to working with our partners throughout the D.C. government and holding them accountable to that same commitment. 

Mental Health Support Information

Excellence in Truth and Service, 

Wayne A. I. Frederick, MD, MBA 
Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery