For years there have been vapors of financial ineptitude floating around HBCUs, and many fell into financial disarray. However, with recent revelations of fraud being perpetrated at prestigious Howard University, we have seen a heartbreaking confirmation of a phenomenon that only been discussed among alums and speculated about on social media.
The revelations came from an anonymous author publishing at Medium under the alias Veritas 1867 and included records alleging financial aid employees stole $1 million in financial aid funding meant for students. One wonders aloud whether this was a one-off circumstance or indicative of systemic problems.
A student employee was the hero in bringing this to light, according to the article. The former student, who remains anonymous but is referred to as Chase, said:
Chase said that he was surprised by the Presidents response to his shocking disclosure. After the meeting with Dr. Frederick and Hadley, Chase wondered if the embezzlement had somehow reached the highest office in the University.
I cant say for sure that Dr. Frederick is involved. I have no proof of that. But its as if hes tried to cover this whole thing up. When I first told him and Calvin Hadley, he seemed like he already knew what was going on and was just annoyed that a student had found out.
There were so many people involved in this fraud that I didnt know who I could trust. Just when I thought about telling a colleague, Id soon learn that they were somehow involved in the theft of financial aid money. So my last resort was to tell the President, the former student and Capstone scholar said.
Face The Music: Howard University President Wayne Frederick Speaks On Bamboozled Bison Bucks, Twitter Drags Him To A Different World (Image via Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post/Getty) https://t.co/9kqPOJXQel
He went onto add that he believed Frederick attempted to cover it up, even going so far as to reveal his identity to colleagues, who stepped to him in mass regarding the matter. A sloppy move, or an act of intimidation? everything is subjective these days, huh? That’s why Chase recorded the meeting.
When Chase asked one former colleague how she learned about the meeting, she responded: Calvin [Hadley] told me.
Chase heard rumors that the Presidents office had been defaming him. Calvin Hadley began telling people that I was blackmailing the University. I heard this from several people student leaders and administrators alike. Chase said he would have been worried about this accusation if he didnt have exonerating proof.
I recorded the entire meeting. Every single word. I recorded it on my iPhone. They had no clue, Chase admitted. When asked why he would record the meeting, Chase said, Dr. Frederick has a reputation for being dishonest. As does Calvin. They lie. They misrepresent facts. Many people advised me that if I was going to meet with him about anything, I needed to record him.
Student activist group HU Resist shared the story on Twitter stating The long-held suspicions that our university is stealing money from us have been confirmed. We deserve better. We demand better. Its time to take back our university. The hashtags #StudentPowerHU and #FredrickMustResign were used in the post.
In the words of Frederick Douglass, “power concedes nothing without a demand.” These are our demands. #StudentPowerHU
HU President Wayne A.I. Frederick released a statement in response to the allegations; the financial integrity of Howard Universitys operations and strong measures have been following the RSM investigation to ensure this never happens again. As part of these reform efforts, significant policies and procedures have been implemented to strengthen Howards internal controls with respect to the award of financial aid.
As of March 29, an external auditor found that six staffersreceived grants and tuition remission that exceed the total cost of attendance and took the difference.
The fraud, which reportedly took place between 2007 and 2016, is a sad controversy on its face but is the realization of a nightmare for the integrity of this vaunted cathedral of black intelligentsia.
Howard revealed they arent even sure how much was taken.
We dont have a final amount but we are working with our outside experts to ensure every dollar is accounted for and the university will exercise all of our options to recoup the funds, Alonda Thomas, a Howard spokesperson, told The Washington Post.
The president officially launched an internal investigation in 2016 when he acted on the information provided. An external auditing firm gave the president the results in May.
Two months later, in July, the president self-reported the findings to the Department of Education.
The college also hired a financial aid consultant, Third Coast Consulting, to investigate any misuse of federal funds. The company hasnt found anything yet.
Make no mistake, this ultimately hurts the students most of all. The most egregious and disrespectful of the offenders was Tyrone Hankerson, who stole $500,000. Why, apparently, so he could become an Instagram model. The Financial Aid office itself was rotten from top to bottom.
In 2013, for example, the Associate Director of Financial Aid, Brian Johnson, received tuition remission, and despite this, also received University Need Based Grants totaling $35,400 one year and more than $68,000 the following year. These grants are intended for low-income students who are in desperate need of assistance and in danger of having their education disrupted by their inability to pay. The grant amounts usually range between $2,000 to $5,500 a semester. A current financial aid employee described the amount awarded to the former Associate Director as unprecedented and illegal. Total aid received by the Associate Director neared $200,000.
“Phony grants were allegedly created and awarded to financial aid employees who were also registered for University courses. In some cases, these employees qualified for tuition remission and therefore werent charged tuition for their classes. Despite this, they still received large grants and scholarships that exceeded amounts generally awarded to normal students. These grants almost always exceeded legally allowed amounts.”
Despicable, but is it typical? I can only hope that it is not.