- An anonymous blog post detailing alleged misappropriation of financial aid funds at Howard University prompted a detailed statement from administrators, outlining the timeline of a year-long investigation that resulted in six staff firings and a slew of new oversight controls within the division, according to NBC News.
- Howard officials said that staff members were able to receive institutional aid disbursements credited to them while they were enrolled as undergraduate and graduate students. The amount of illicitly obtained funds is still being determined, but officials say they continue to collect information to support the potential filing of criminal charges.
- According to reports, terminated employees included a former bursar, donor relations manager and two financial aid officers.
Howard is not the only university to contend with financial controversy, but as the nation's flagship historically black college in Washington, D.C., it is bound to draw criticism with painful undercurrents tied to racial and class-based stereotypes. The university responded effectively to the rumors of administrative cover-up and wrongdoing, but still faces the possibility of questions from students about the transparency of criminal investigations on campus.
While Howard correctly stated that releasing details about its financial review could've compromised its outcomes, administrators could have used the opportunity to implement and announce new changes to the financial aid awarding process while never referencing its auditing process. Perhaps doing so would've primed students for a more positive response to the information leaks and resulting coverage.
FERPA and labor laws may restrict revealing people or positions involved in certain inquiries, but it doesn't prohibit campuses from analyzing, implementing and announces changes to systems and cultures which make the university more efficient. These things are an ideal way to get ahead of crises which, for most campuses, are just one tweet away from going viral.