WASHINGTON (ABC7) — A Howard University sophomore says she was scolded by the school's president, simply because she voiced a concern about on-campus housing.
This week, 19-year-old Kendal Hall wrote an email to Howard University president Wayne Frederick, in which she expressed concern over a possible housing shortage on campus. Hall says she felt she was respectful while explaining her fear of being homeless next semester.
"You can't exactly attend classes if you don't have housing," she said. "You can't have peace of mind if you don't have housing."
The email details Hall's recent experience while attempting to reserve a housing assignment.
"Upon my time to pick housing I discovered a glitch," she wrote in the email. "Apparently I wasn't sent the official time to pick housing. Moments later I arrived at the resident's office in which I saw tens of students waiting to be talked to. I patiently waited my two hours to then be told they have run out of housing. The crowd stares back in disbelief."
Then, Hall asked the school's president a question.
"I know that our school is based off truth and service, so I would like to think we would live up to that. So I beg of you, please just let us know what are we supposed to do?" she wrote.
Hall says she received a response from Howard University President Wayne Frederick just a few minutes later. But it was not the response she expected.
"Your tone and tenor is inappropriate," Frederick wrote. "The appropriate offices to handle this matter are copied and will respond."
Hall was so stunned by Frederick's words, she shared the email exchange on Twitter.
The tweet, which shows screenshots of her original message and Frederick's response, has been retweeted more than 31,000 times. It has been liked more than 85,000 times.
"I did not expect that," Hall said. "Which shows you how much our generation has changed in terms of social media, and how much of an impact social media has on our world."
And just like that, she found herself at the center of the Howard University housing controversy that prompted several student protests over the past week.
"I think it's a big issue. I think it's one that impacts a lot of people. It's one that we can't exactly ignore. And it's one we kind of have to deal with now," she said.
So Hall says she was relieved that not long after her Twitter post went viral, she received an e-mailed apology from the school's president. A spokesperson for Howard University confirmed to ABC 7 that Frederick has indeed apologized.
The school also issued a statement, assuring students that the university has enough on-campus housing capacity to accommodate students' needs.
The statement, from Howard's vice president for student affairs Kenneth M. Holmes, reads in part:
"This is the first year we are using the StarRez system for housing reservations and unfortunately, we have experienced unforeseen glitches. As we navigate these glitches, I am working closely with the Office of Residence Life and University Housing leadership team to ensure a smooth process henceforth. In order to serve you more promptly, that team is now servicing the remaining requests manually. This will expedite the process for remaining room assignments. Students who have paid their housing deposit through the RSVP process will be accommodated housing on campus for the 2018 academic year. For those who have not yet been notified of their housing assignment, you will hear from Res Life no later than Friday, March 30. Again, I’m extending my sincere apologies for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience and understanding during this process."
Hall said that she has now received confirmation of her housing assignment for next semester, and she's grateful for that.
She also said she accepts Frederick's apology.
"I do accept it, but the best apology I can get is all the students getting housing. That's all that matters to me," she said. "So I'm definitely happy I'm taken care of, but I won’t be truly happy unless everyone else is."
She says she'll have to wait until March 30 to see if the school keeps its word about housing assignments.