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Howard U cancels already underway commencement as families riot

Last week was challenging for officials at “The Mecca” of HBCUs. The administration had been busy at the start of the school year trying to calm nerves over violent incidents on and near campus, only to have a student pistol-whipped and robbed during the holidays.

And as fury over student housing conditions faded, fresh controversy exploded, forcing the university to make amends to its 2024 nursing class on Saturday with a special graduation ceremony at Capital One Arena.

Days before the rescheduled ceremony, an uprising with broken glass and angry family members shaking their fists forced Howard University to cancel Thursday’s original ceremony.

Here’s what happened. The Cramton Auditorium, where the ceremony was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., reached capacity before all the family and friends of the 280 College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences graduating students could enter the facility, according to The Hilltop, Howards’ student newspaper.

About 100 fuming guests stood outside the auditorium when security closed the second set of foyer doors.

They began chanting, “Let us in,” as anger and frustration reached a boiling point. TikTok user @destinymarilynn posted a video of the chaotic scene.

“Wowwww @Howard Universty do F*CKING better. Im student here and can plan a graduation ceremony better that your unprofessional faculty. Yall have a whole field that can be utilized, why would you try to cramp everyone in one auditorium,” @destinymarilynn wrote.

Someone broke the glass door in the foyer during the commotion, which folks inside the auditorium could hear. Keynote speaker Dwain N. Esmond was asked to pause his speech.

“𝑩𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒖𝒔𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒊𝒛𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒐𝒐𝒎, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒃𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒖𝒔𝒆 𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒓𝒆𝒍𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒔 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆𝒔 𝒅𝒐 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒉𝒐𝒘 𝒕𝒐 𝒂𝒄𝒕, 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒇𝒊𝒓𝒆 𝒅𝒆𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒕𝒎𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒊𝒔 𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒔𝒉𝒖𝒕 𝒖𝒔 𝒅𝒐𝒘𝒏,” Dean Gina Spivey-Brown told the seated audience, who booed her.

However, D.C. Fire and EMS denied shutting down the ceremony, saying that an emergency team responded to a medical call from the campus police.

Students and families were heartbroken. “I didn’t even get to walk. I didn’t get to walk. I graduated magna cum laude and I didn’t even get to walk, Halle Ragoonanan told NBC News Washington, adding that she experienced similar heartbreak during the pandemic.

“I’m the (high school) class of 2020,” she continued. “I didn’t get to walk for my high school graduation and I didn’t get to walk for my college graduation.”

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by Anonymousreply 6May 14, 2024 3:03 PM

I'm going to withhold comments until Sunny Hostin speaks on this on 'The View'.

by Anonymousreply 1May 14, 2024 12:05 PM

The Anita Baker of it all.

by Anonymousreply 2May 14, 2024 12:21 PM

That sounds like bloody stupid and dangerous planning. Who was in charge there? First time around? They should be happy no one died in a freak accident or a panic. Why not go outside?

by Anonymousreply 3May 14, 2024 12:56 PM

Oh well, these are skills they'll need on the job.

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by Anonymousreply 4May 14, 2024 1:23 PM

I don't know nothin' 'bout plannin' no gragiation......

by Anonymousreply 5May 14, 2024 1:40 PM

r3 Who would have believed that this many of those bitches would graduate?

by Anonymousreply 6May 14, 2024 3:03 PM
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