Where’s My Money?!: A Howard student’s open letter to Tyrone Hankerson Jr.
"Nothing is worth what he’s putting us through. Not even a fur coat."
Over the last week Tyrone Hankerson Jr. has gone viral for his alleged involvement in the Howard University financial aid scandal.
There have been countless memes mocking his love of high fashion (which some speculate was bought with embezzled funds) and viral videos of his enraged classmates singing Rihanna’s hit song (you know the one about getting her money by any means necessary) while protesting the admissions office.
But all it takes is one visit to the Howard campus to realize that this situation is no laughing matter; there are college careers and people’s futures on the line as students, faculty and parents alike try to make sense of how this could have gone unchecked for so long.
Wednesday, theGrio sat down with Natalie Felix, a Public Relations major, who says the actions of Hankerson and his cronies have directly caused both her and her family one long year of frustration and empty answers that have left them all in the dark.
On why people need to stop focusing on Tyrone…
“Personally, I don’t want people to focus on Tyrone because this situation is bigger than him. It makes for an interesting story, but if this turns out to be true, Tyrone – you’re stealing from people that look like you. You’re stealing from people that supported you. You’re stealing from your peers and your friends.
There were other people involved. People who we trusted to help us out. In fact, when they released who was involved, one of the names on that list was a person directly working on my financial aid case, which, by the way, STILL isn’t resolved.
When I saw his name it really left me frustrated because it’s a year later and I still have no real answers. I had to fight tooth and nail just to register this semester because [my financial aid] had not been resolved.”
On what Howard has told her…
“Howard told me my federal Pell grant had not been dispersed and initially blamed it on the school I transferred from before coming here. When I asked that school about why my Pell grant had not come through, they investigated it and concluded that the issue was with Howard. Eventually Howard admitted that I hadn’t received the grant because of a clerical mistake that was due to their negligence.
Now, I feel like all that was somehow tied to this scandal. In hindsight it makes sense why they had me running in circles chasing down a Pell grant. At one point, the school even suggested I take out a personal loan to cover the outstanding balance left due to missing grant money.
Does that make any sense?
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I’m not taking out a loan to cover a grant I was already awarded. And, I wish they’d been more upfront with me about the situation they were in.
I wouldn’t have been able to attend college without financial assistance. If my financial aid issue isn’t resolved, I won’t be able to register for the summer or fall semesters and would have to leave school altogether.”
On her future at Howard University…
“I don’t want to say that Howard failed me, but I feel disappointed and numb. A part of me still doesn’t want to believe that this is something that could’ve happened.
The idea of embezzlement isn’t new on campus. From what I’ve heard there was a scandal with the previous president as well. But I thought that was in the past and that it was something we wouldn’t have to deal with again.
The administration has not taken the time to check in with us and really hear how this is affecting us as individuals. They aren’t even showing a unified front with each other. Some of the faculty supports the students, while others are siding with the president.
But, we still haven’t heard a real plan of action. We’re getting conflicting messages.”
On what she would say to Tyrone and the others…
“I have yet to see an apology for any of this. I would, however, like one and I want them to listen to us and respond with a real plan of action and when they plan to implement it.
I don’t believe that Tyrone was being set up as a scapegoat. I’m not even mad at his social media presence. That’s nothing new because part of our campus culture is that we’re stylish. At Howard – we look good! So him having nice things doesn’t bother me – him purchasing those nice things with money meant for my education is what upsets me. Its uncomfortable to think about.
If I had to ask him anything, I would ask him why he did it. Nothing is worth what he’s putting us through. Not even a fur coat. If Tyrone worked hard and passed the bar, he could’ve bought himself all those things with his own money.
As for the president, I’d encourage him to listen to his students with an open mind and most of all, to BE TRANSPARENT.”