The Howard University scandal that has surfaced in recent months is not only an instance of fraud but of the theft of education. As details become more clear about what occurred in the scandal, it is clear that there needs to be more transparency in financial aid offices. If scandals like these continue to occur, they will hinder students’ abilities to receive an education.

In late March, six Howard University employees were revealed by an anonymous post on the blogging website Medium to have stolen nearly one million dollars in financial aid from 2007 to 2016. All of the Howard employees had received grants and tuition remission, which refers to partial or full discounts that an institution such as Howard may give to their employees and their dependents to attend classes at that university. The grants and discounts that the employees had received, however, exceeded the total cost of tuition for Howard University. The employees have not returned the extra funds they received and have  continued to keep these funds for themselves.

In December 2016, the president of Howard, Wayne A.I. Frederick, was informed by school officials that there had been a “misappropriation of university-provided funds,” causing the University to begin an investigation. By September 2017, the University had found that the six employees had misused funds, and they were all fired shortly after. Although the six employees were apprehended in 2017, the scandal was not released to the public until late March of 2018.

Immediately after learning about the financial aid scandal, Howard students took control over the main administration building, refusing to leave until their demands were met. These demands included the disarmament of campus police, more power for students when decisions are made in administration and the board of trustees, creation of a system in which faculty can be held responsible for their language and actions toward student, and the resignation of Frederick.

According to a statement released by the students after the scandal, “Financial aid is a primary barrier for Howard students to complete their education.” Many Howard students expressed frustration that money that should have been going to their tuition had been stolen by employees. One stated, “We [Howard students] put ourselves into a lot of debt to try to graduate from college, so the idea that someone is pocketing the money meant for us makes a lot of people sick.” One student also added, “I am actually on the verge of transferring schools because I can’t afford to stay here because of a grant that was taken away from me.”

One of the employees who misused funds, Tyrone Hankerson Jr., has denied stealing financial aid funds and is suing the Howard University 10 million dollars for releasing his financial aid documents that were leaked during the uncovering of the scandal. Hankerson had been a student worker and an assistant in the financial aid office from 2011 to 2015 as an undergraduate student at Howard University. Currently, Hankerson is pursuing a law degree at Howard and is set to graduate in May. Amid the scandal, Hankerson has been swept into a wave of controversy due to several posts on social media showing Hankerson wearing fur coats, designer bags, and posing next to luxurious and expensive cars. Hankerson’s claim of innocence is appalling due to his actions hindering Howard students to pursue an education. As a Howard University alumnus, Hankerson should know the difficulty Howard students face in paying for their education. To reject the notion that he stole financial aid is not only a “slap in the face” to Howard students but also to Hankerson’s fellow classmates at Howard who have striven to get an education.

The recent scandal has clearly aggravated the financial situation for students who are attempting to finish an education at Howard University. The scandal constitutes a theft of money from Howard University itself, but also from the Howard students of the education that have pursued for several years. Furthermore, the scandal shows that there needs to be more transparency in administrative offices. Students should be able to have a voice when their university is making decisions and should have knowledge of what services their tuition funds. With more students involved in financial processes, employees will never be able to take advantage of grants and tuition remission again.