On Black Campus, Tensions Simmer Over Dog Walkers

In gentrification debate, Howard University students want local residents to keep away
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2019 1:10 PM CDT
On Black Campus, Tensions Simmer Over Dog Walkers
The Howard University campus is seen at sunrise on Dec. 19, 2015.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Washington, DC, has the highest "intensity of gentrification" of any city in the country, according to a study highlighted by the Washington Post. That lends background to a dispute between Howard University students and the surrounding community, which has grown whiter and more expensive to inhabit in recent years. In an April 9 online post, a local resident described being harassed by students for walking a dog on the historically black university's green space, dubbed the Yard. There's no written policy against dog-walking, but the Guardian says a ban has been informally enforced by school security and students for several years. And on April 19, Howard President Wayne Frederick wrote in a letter to students and staff that "we appreciate pet owners respecting our campus by not bringing pets onto the private areas."

Students further argue that dog walkers, runners, sunbathers, picnickers, and other "colonizers"—a term used by syndicated radio host Charlemagne—should respect the campus as a place for African Americans, per WFTV. "It's the principle: one, of protecting the students, even though it is an open campus, and, two, maintaining the sanctity of this sacred black space," a 2018 graduate tells the Guardian. Post columnist Theresa Vargas writes that most non-students turning up on Howard's campus probably didn't realize there was any affront. But "now, there is no confusion" and abiding by the wishes of the school is "about seeing Howard University for what it is—a 152-year-old institution that has been home to many great minds—and honoring that. Or at the very least, not allowing an animal to defecate on it." (More Howard University stories.)

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