Students across the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Consortium have spent the past two weeks protesting housing conditions and a lack of transparency from their school’s administration.

The students made sure to involve all of the schools in the AUC in their organizing, including students from Morris Brown College and the Interdenominational Theological Center.

“We knew that there was power in numbers, that’s why we came together as a collective,” said Ariyana Griffin, a senior at Clark Atlanta University.

 The group of student organizers called the Atlanta Student Movement originally came together in solidarity with the ongoing protests at Howard University in Washington D.C.

According to Griffin the students then began to realize the number of issues they wanted addressed on their own campuses. The main issues that they decided needed to be addressed were housing, dining, transportation, financial aid, Title IX, transparency and accountability from their institutions. 

Earlier this year students from Clark Atlanta University (CAU) and Spelman College reached out to the Atlanta Voice about a lack of housing and poor communication from their schools.

 In mid-October members of the Atlanta Student Movement began camping out along the promenade at Clark University to draw attention to poor housing conditions.

Sophomore transfer student at CAU Brooklyn Alladice had to temporarily move in with a cousin after water began leaking from the walls in their dorm’s bathroom.

 “At first I thought it was just a little drip and got my bucket,” Alladice said. “The walls started leaking water and then it turned into puddles and started leaking into my room.” 

Alladice said the water leaked into their room all over their vinyl collection and made its way to their closet where all of their shoes were. 

“It was at least an inch to two inches of water covering the floor in my closet and bathroom,” Alladice said. 

When maintenance came to the next and opened up the ceiling and back wall in Alladice’s bathroom they found large areas of mold.

“They realized that a pipe had been leaking for some time and it was just never fixed, even though they just renovated Heritage Commons,” said Alladice.

 The CAU ultimately had Alladice moved into temporary housing after she initially moved out to stay with a relative.

A’niyah Jackson a freshman at CAU had similar problems with water and drainage issues but said that a majority of the issues with her dorm are not major but that the building has been neglected for a long time.

On Tuesday, CAU President George T. French signed a list of demands from the Atlanta Student Movement called the HBCU Student Quality of Life Agreement.

The agreement addresses all of the movement’s major demands including an independent third-party inspection of all on-campus student housing that is to be completed by August 2022.

Student organizers have met with the presidents of Morehouse, CAU and Spelman in the past week specifically to discuss the quality of life at the schools and discuss a path forward. 

Ariyana Griffin said one of the reasons the students have been able to make progress is by staying in solidarity with one another.

That means making sure all the different perspectives of AUC students are being heard. For example safe on-campus housing is a major concern for the underclassmen, while upperclassmen are worried about transportation issues and meal plan exemptions. 

Throughout October at HBCUs across the south from Howard to Tuskegee, students have protested due to funding and leadership issues at their universities.

Different from the Atlanta Student Movement of the 1960s where students were focused on changing the world outside their campus, this group of student organizers are pointing the finger at their own schools and national leaders to make changes.

The AUC organizers called on the Biden-Harris Administration, Congresswomen Lucy McBath and Nikema Williams and both of Georgia’s senators to discuss including a $45 billion investment in HBCUs in the Build Back Better Act.

(Students at CAU protesting Housing Crisis Photo Credit: Dawn Montgomery/ The Atlanta Voice )

Madeline Thigpen is an education reporter and Report for America Corps Member. She joined the Atlanta Voice in 2021. At the Voice she covers K-12 education for the Atlanta metro region and higher education....