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Atlanta HBCU Students Demand Better Housing Conditions, More Funding

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- Students at Atlanta's historically Black colleges and universities have launched overnight protests against housing conditions and other issues. They're reaching out to administrators with a list of demands they want met.

Tuesday marked the second day of protests near the Atlanta University Center. "The dorms that we do have, many of them have things such as mold. I personally have a friend who had a dryer fire in her dorm," said Marcellus Kirkland, a Morehouse student and protest organizer. The students attend Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse, Spelman and Morris Brown Colleges. They're protesting in solidarity with Howard University students who are facing similar issues. "To see the struggles they are enduring, I think that speaks louder than any pictures we'll ever see of mold," said Clark Atlanta student Alivia Duncan, another protest organizer.

They say there's been mold and leaking pipes, particularly at Clark Atlanta and Morehouse. Students are also protesting high student loan debt and blaming the Biden Administration for cutting proposed federal education funding from $45 billion to $2 billion, which is a major blow to HBCUs. They're demanding better housing conditions, more funding and more transparency. "Sometimes, greatness does come through struggle, but at the same time, some struggles simply shouldn't be necessary," Kirkland said. Ironically, the protests are happening in the same area where students launched historic movements for justice and equality decades ago. Now, they're launching a new movement drawing attention to college housing and funding issues. "I love what our ancestors have done, but I don't believe that we should continue to do this every single year," said Duncan.

Morris Brown President Kevin James confirmed his college does not offer housing, but he released this statement:

As President of Morris Brown College, Georgia's only HBCU founded by Black people, I am an advocate of all levels of financial support for HBCU's. I am especially sensitive to campaign promises made by our elected officials. I am hopefully that the Biden Administration sees the impact of our institutions on the Black middle class and our contributions in this country and abroad; we hope he stands by his promises. Moreover, student loan debt continues to be an issue, which is why Morris Brown is affordable, 1/3 the cost of most private institutions in the State, and even more affordable than some state supported institutions. I want my graduates to complete college with little to no debt.

Spelman College President Mary Schmit Campbell, Ph.D. released this statement:
Colleges at the AUCC recognize the multiple challenges our students faced this year. These challenges included the need for financial aid, including housing and transportation assistance. Each of the colleges disbursed record amounts of scholarship aid, cleared balances, and provided unprecedented amounts of emergency funding.  We welcome support from the Atlanta community as we continue to seek support for our deserving high need high performing students. Long term, we are all assessing the need for more resources to support our students.

Morehouse College did not immediately respond to CW69's request for comment. Atlanta University Center Consortium Executive Director Michael Hodge indicated he asked the protest organizers to contact him but never heard back. He declined to indicate whether the AUCC plans to help find solutions that tie into its mission of "offering services that benefit their students and community, and leveraging their shared resources."

Although students say the campuses have been supportive, they indicated the protesting will continue until that support turns into positive action.

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