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Tents set up near the Blackburn University Center as students protest poor housing conditions on the campus of Howard University Oct. 25. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick in a letter to students and staff Monday said a weeks-long student sit-in at a campus student center "must end."

Catch up fast: Students began their occupation of the Blackburn Center on Oct. 12, aiming to get school officials to address safety concerns in campus housing, and to give students representation on the board of trustees.

  • Students had reported black mold, water leaks, and that they've seen bugs and rodents in university facilities.

What they're saying: Frederick lauded Howard's history of vibrant student protest but said the sit-in was a "departure from past norms."

  • "There is a distinct difference between peaceful protest and freedom of expression and the occupation of a University building that impedes operations and access to essential services and creates health and safety risks," he said.
  • "The occupation of the Blackburn center must end," he added.

Frederick said in the letter that the university had invited a building inspector, student leaders, board members and others to inspect conditions in the student facilities.

  • The problems that were reported concerned only a small number of buildings and "the vast majority of our students are living comfortably," he said.

It's the second large student protest of its kind in the last few years at Howard. Students and alumni say the university still isn’t putting students first.

  • The other side: “His focus is still not meeting our demands, but getting us out of this building. He must not understand that the only way we’ll leave this building is if he meets our demands,” the Live Movement, which helped organize the demonstration, posted on Instagram.

State of play: Howard's Blackburn Center hosts the school's largest cafeteria and other student services. The building's occupation had forced the relocation of a COVID-19 testing center, according to the Washington Post.

  • While about 50 students have set up camp inside the center, dozens more pitched tents outside, per the Post.

Go deeper

$10 million fund set up to lure athletes to University of Texas

Jhenna Gabriel of the Texas Longhorns hits a set against the Wisconsin Badgers. Photo: Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

University of Texas donors, former UT athletes and sports marketer Nick Shuley on Wednesday announced the launch of a $10 million fund to bankroll name-image-likeness opportunities for student-athletes.

Why it matters: The Clark Field Collective, as it's known, is the latest salvo in a rapidly escalating arms race among boosters of top sports-playing universities to lure elite athletes to their playing fields.

  • A raft of new laws allows student-athletes to finally profit on their own names and images.

Booster rates increase as Omicron approaches

Source: Chicago Department of Public Health; Chart: Axios Visuals

As Chicagoans worry about the arrival of the Omicron variant, health officials say the best way to prepare — and to reduce current high levels of Delta — is to vaccinate and boost.

Why it matters: COVID-19 vaccination rates are still pretty low in certain communities and school groups where transmission is high.

  • And as Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) chief Allison Arwady explains, low vaccination rates actually drive new variants.
Updated 16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.