For the past few weeks, Howard University students have expressed concern about local residents walking their dogs on the Washington, D.C., school’s campus. Now the president of the private institution has issued a statement.
In a lengthy email sent to the school’s students and staff, President Wayne A. I. Frederick said pet owners should not bring their animals to the historically black university’s private areas.
“We recognize that service animals are a necessary aspect of modern-day life and we will accommodate them as needed,” he wrote. “We appreciate pet owners respecting our campus by not bringing pets onto the private areas.”
Those areas include the grassy space where the annual commencement ceremony is held.
“Our Commencement Ceremony is the ultimate long walk that symbolizes a sacred tradition,” Frederick said. “The Howard University community wants to see this area remain pristine and symbolic of all that Howard University represents.”
Earlier this month, Howard University students condemned local residents who picnicked, sunbathed, exercised and dog walked on The Yard, an open campus area surrounded by academic buildings.
The controversy has sparked a debate about race and gentrification. Many students said residents are degrading the school’s space by walking their dogs on the campus, especially when the dogs relieve themselves on the lawn.
The debate follows complaints from a resident in an apartment complex in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood a few blocks from the campus. According to The Washington Post, the resident complained about a month ago about loud go-go music, a funk-adjacent sub genre that originated from D.C. in the 1970s, blasting at a Metro PCS store. The music has been played from the store, whose company is owned by T-Mobile, since 1995.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in an April 10 tweet that the music would continue as the company would “work with the neighbors to compromise volume.”
Frederick noted the 152-year-old college has shared a “longstanding relationship” with the residential area for years, listing an array of campus events that have been open to everyone.
He said the school has previously held meetings with the advisory neighborhood committees and has recently reached out to them to “engage in dialogue.”
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