Hampton Did Not Make Us, We Made Hampton: A Response to the Annual Town Hall

    Tuesday afternoon, after the unsatisfactory annual Hampton University Town Hall meeting, where the administration deflected and, dare I say, even lied about the many horrendous situations students were experiencing such as hospitalization due to mold, mishandled sexual assault cases, unsanitary cafeteria food, etc. Hamptonians took their experiences to social media, in what was probably the administration’s worst nightmare, and aired their grievances to the world.

The past few days, multiple news channels have run stories on the situation, articles have been circulating, and the HU Town Hall hashtag has exploded. The administration has, since then, met with student leaders and outlined possible solutions for improving cafeteria food and investigating mold infestations in dorm halls. While these actions are truly appreciated, it seems like they are trying to save face. The email even mentioned that “12-2” was under discussion again, and it was such an obvious attempt of appeasement to quiet student dissent that I couldn’t help but be wary. The administration still hasn’t acknowledged the investigation of the school’s Title IX office or the fact that many women at Hampton don’t feel comfortable reporting their cases because of other women’s past experiences and the Title IX office’s ancient ideas on consent.

More than ever, the saying “Hampton is what you make it” rings true. I was genuinely in love with this school prior to my freshmen year, and even when I came here, I was infatuated with the school’s social life and my professors in Scripps Howard. However, as social events started getting stripped away, and good professors started leaving because of their personal qualms with the institution, it became hard for the school to hide its ugly side.  

This school is not great because of the administration. The administration’s first priority is to protect the school’s brand and if you really look into the history of Hampton University, you will realize that part of that brand is not worth protecting. This school was founded on assimilation, and vestiges of that still exist today with Hampton’s obsession with respectability. Indeed, the administration is respectable to the point of being oppressive, and that is evident in the way they enforce the dress code for female students and how they view partying as a hindrance to being successful.

What makes this school so great is its student body. What brings new students here is the social atmosphere and familial environment. When they finally arrive as freshmen, they should want to stay, not just because it is fun, but because they have insightful professors, nutritious food, and an administration that worries about students’ concerns first. Students should not feel trapped here. We give our money to this school, we make constant opportunities for our fellow students, and we are the main reason new students come every year. The administration finally recognized that this school didn’t make us, we made this school. This is where we live, where we learn, and where we are meant to thrive. Our administrators proved that the only way they would listen is if the school’s brand was under attack.  If we keep tweeting and fighting, we can change this school for the better.

Image source: The Undefeated