What's Happening at Howard University? Rihanna Backs Student Protesters Singing 'Bitch Better Have My Money'

A massive protest at one of the nation's most prominent historically black universities entered its second day Friday, drawing support from pop singer Rihanna and making national headlines as nearly 300 students took over a campus administration building over alleged financial mismanagement.

The protest organized by Howard University students in Washington, D.C., centers on nine formal demands students made to university administrators this week after a financial aid scandal. Students occupying the university space, including the university president's office, have refused to leave since the protest began Thursday, only allowing students and maintenance staff to enter the building.

"Time and time again, the administration and board of trustees has failed to act in the best interests of its students," said student group HU Resist in a statement. "As the primary stakeholders of the university, we want the power to determine its direction through democratization."

The demonstrators wants answers from university President Wayne A.I. Frederick after an internal investigation into the misappropriation of university-provided financial aid was leaked this week in an anonymous post on Medium.com. The post claimed that nearly $1 million in university grants had been inappropriately given to university employees. The money had been earmarked to help low-income students cover the cost of tuition.

Six school employees were fired over the incident last year, but students said they just learned of the internal report this week and should have been told about the scandal sooner. Some students called for Frederick to resign. They also said the campus needs to provide better housing conditions for students living in dormitories and more transparency overall, among other demands.

"This matter is extremely disheartening because financial aid remains the primary barrier for Howard students to complete their education, and this theft serves a direct attack and insult to our community," the Howard University Student Association said in a statement.

Howard has about 11,000 students and charges $12,061 per semester, not including room and board, for the current school year. Famous alumni include actors Taraji P. Henson and Anthony Anderson, former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, novelist Zora Neale Hurston, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and record producer Sean Combs.

The Howard University Board of Trustees released a statement of support Friday on Frederick's behalf, while Frederick addressed students in a statement promising to respond to their needs. "Howard University has birthed generations of student activists, and we will always continue in that spirit, for it is through raising the united voices of our students that Howard scholars have historically created a reverberating impact across the nation and the world," he said. "I am listening to you, and I am challenging my team to make the changes you are expressing a dire need to see."

Press Conference https://t.co/VXmq8zrJgA

— HU Resist (@HUResist) March 30, 2018

💪🏿🙌🏿 https://t.co/x8EPEgjtgS

— Rihanna (@rihanna) March 30, 2018

During one of the protests, students sang Rihanna's hit "Bitch Better Have my Money," eventually drawing support from the singer in a message posted to Twitter.