But beyond that, those standing in protest at arguably the most famous historically Black college and university are demanding that the Biden administration, Congress and their most famous alumnus — Vice President Kamala Harris — follow through on a promise. Funding for the nation’s more than 100 HBCUs is one of many things in the president’s Build Back Better agenda. And from the point of its introduction in the spring, HBCU advocates and students had held out hope that President Joe Biden and Harris would deliver the $45 billion proposed for minority-serving institutions, including HBCUs like Howard. With the Founders Library in the background, people walk through the Howard University campus, Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Washington. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo Now it appears that the number will fall far short of the original proposal. As the Build Back Better framework was negotiated among Democrats, they steeply scaled down its scope in order to satisfy centrist members. In the process, direct HBCU funding took a significant hit. The latest draft of the legislation calls for at least $2 billion of the $10 billion in MSI funding to go to HBCUs, though with additional money for Pell Grants for those who attend those institutions. While that’s more than the federal government has ever dedicated to HBCUs and other minority serving institutions (Biden’s FY22 budget request was $1.06 billion for HBCU-specific funding), the same students who felt so hopeful in the spring are increasingly lamenting that the school won’t get the upgrade it needs. “In this critical time, it's important that we listen. I listened,” said Bernard L. Richardson, dean of the chapel, as he took to the stage to say a prayer on Howard’s Homecoming Sunday in October. “I listened to the pain of our students and I also listened to the pain of the administrative leaders who are struggling to make things right.” The crowd — in various styles of dress ranging from full suits, hoodies and jeans, fraternity and sorority colors abound — was with him. The murmurs of agreement and whispers of “amen” come from all over. Howard is hurting. For weeks, dozens of students have taken over the social hub of the university while sleeping on pallets, air mattresses and tents inside and outside of the building. “At the moment, I can’t remember the last time I showered,” said Hill, who splits her time between protesting and working at a Trinidadian restaurant on Capitol Hill. “I need to wash my hair. My curly hair routine is nonexistent right now.” Pockets of discontent like what’s being seen at Howard and other campuses may seem removed from the day-to-day legislative battles of lawmakers in the nation’s capital. But collectively, they can end up being a real problem for an administration that is already hemorrhaging political support. There was immense hope at the start of the administration, with the quick passage of the American Rescue Plan, a vaccine rollout that saw as many as 2 million people getting inoculated daily, and the unveiling of the infrastructure and Build Back Better agenda in the spring. But setbacks in the Covid fight and haggling within the party have forced Democrats to significantly shrink the size of that spending package In the process, groups like those who have congregated and protested on Howard’s campus, have grown more despondent. Some of the issues they’re frustrated over have little to do with the federal government. Students are asking for more transparency into how the Howard budget is handled, the reinstatement of the trustee positions of students, alumni and faculty and amnesty for student protestors from any blowback. They’ve signed petitions urging the school to cut its ties to the developer, Corvia, that manages a bulk of the campus housing. Howard University has been adamant that things are not as bad as the students are making it seem. A university spokesperson said that only 41 rooms had mold and Howard is undergoing “top-to-bottom review of facility conditions.” “While there have only been a small number of documented reports, we are actively seeking any issues that may be in the dorms by going door to door to address each room,” the spokesperson said. “Cabinet members have personally visited our housing facilities every week over the last month to survey dorms in an attempt to address concerns.” But virtually everyone familiar with the protests said that as much as any individual act the school itself could do, it would be a major infusion of federal funding that would help fix the problems. Historically Black colleges and universities have been underfunded for decades, prompting protests in the past, including during the past two administrations. Biden pledged that he would put HBCUs and racial equity at the forefront of his administration. And for those in the HBCU community — and graduates of it — there were early promising signs. The first, and perhaps most significant, was Biden choosing Harris, a Ho . . . read the full article here.