Gentrification continues to disrupt and unravel the lives and traditions of areas once dominated and celebrated by African Americans. But with the recent clash between newcomers to the District who have moved into the Shaw area and the Howard University community, we can only say, “Enough is enough.”
Students have grown weary and remain incensed as local residents have begun to exercise their so-called rights, making “The Yard” a place for transplants to exercise their pets, along with all the reminders that often come when dogs are allowed to run freely.
Change has already become apparent with the recent victory of residents who demanded an end to the long-held tradition of go-go music being played at a popular Metro PCS store on the corner of Florida Avenue and 7th Street. The residents wanted quiet — they got it. The speakers have been moved inside of the store.
But how far should, or perhaps will, the long arm of gentrification extend? One recent transplant to the community allegedly even suggested over the furor about dogs on the school’s grounds, “Move the campus” — just one example of how white entitlement wants to exert itself to absurd ends.
It’s understandable that newcomers may want to cut through the campus while taking their pets on a stroll and they should be allowed to continue that practice without any backlash. Still, there are several parks in the area that dog owners could utilize for the same purpose. The question remains whether new residents even have respect for the historically-Black university at all or the culture that Howard University has espoused for over 150 years. Apparently, some do not.
When the argument about the loud music reached its zenith, the one word that continued to be bandied about was “respect.” If that’s what the District hopes to achieve within communities as neighborhoods change and demographics shift, then surely the practice of walking dogs willy-nilly across the campus of a private university can only be deemed as actions lacking respect — in this instance disrespect for both Howard University and its storied past.
President Wayne A.I. Frederick has concluded that pet owners should not bring their animals to Howard’s private area. “We recognize that service animals are a necessary aspect of modern-day life and we will accommodate them as needed,” he wrote in an email to students and staff. “We appreciate pet owners respecting our campus by not bringing pets onto the private areas,” adding that he wants to see the campus “remain pristine and symbolic of all that Howard University represents.”
We believe Frederick is right. Residents can certainly find other places for picnics, sunbathing and the exercising of their dogs — The Yard is not that place. Further, we disagree with those who contend that Howard University should be viewed and treated as a public space.