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Umoja: Jerome Joseph

Jerome Joseph

Senior biology major, Jerome Joseph, is the Howard University Student Association vice president.

This year there were about five hundred students who were faced with being purged. The total amount of money that it would’ve taken to validate these people was about 7 million dollars. This situation is not unique because this same phenomenon occurs each and every school year.

I applaud the university for their efforts to keep as many students in school as possible because at other institutions there is no such thing as a purge date. You would never step foot into a dormitory, let alone a class, without your balance paid in full. With that being said, if you are going to have this purge process then a better plan should be in place. Each year, at the end of the purge date, the amount owed by invalidated students to the university is between five and seven million dollars. Therefore, why is there not a fund in place to ensure that these students stay in school?

Howard University’s mission has long been to make a high quality education accessible to those who otherwise wouldn’t be given the opportunity. But the university cannot continue to accept students that it does not have the means to support. It’s emotional terrorism to have a student dropped off at the university only to be purged a month later. I must also say that we must hold ourselves as students accountable. If a student has less than 2.0 GPA, they are ineligible for any kind of financial aid. If you have less than a 2.0, then you need to seriously re-evaluate the reason why you are at Howard University.

I would describe the university’s fundraising efforts lackluster at best. We have become entirely too complacent with the federal appropriation that we receive each year (it usually amounts to about 240 million dollars). If the government decided to pull that appropriation one day, then Howard would up a creek with out a paddle. The university should operate with a mindset that the appropriation could be gone tomorrow. It should be viewed as the icing on the cake, not one of the main ingredients. Significant improvement is needed from the Board of Trustees on down. Complacency can no longer be the rule of the day.

There needs to be a serious discussion on where the university will go from here. We can’t continue to allow these students to be put out of school because of financial setbacks.  I believe that Howard should head in the direction of universities such as Harvard and Princeton who have the philosophy that if you get in and take care of business, we will make sure you graduate. Student leaders are willing to take a seat at the table and help offer solutions to this problem. The question is when will the administration decide to call us to the table?

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