Homecoming is a time of unfettered celebration.
Family, friends and alumni all come home for a good time.
They come for the game, for the old friends, for the parties and for the memories.
They do not come for the police blockades, the mall riots, the drunk drivers, the limited expensive parking, or the price gauging on everything from hot dogs to cheap Burberry hats.
They especially do not come to be treated like second-class citizens.
They do not come to be confused with irresponsible drunken teenagers or rowdy students that ruin the party for everyone.
The Tallahassee Police Department is trying new things to ensure the safety and good time of all of the law-abiding students and fans, but is it enough?
An estimated 150,000 visitors will be at Florida A&M University’s Homecoming and Police Chief Walt McNeil has said that his goal is safety.
In the past, FAMU students and alumni have complained about racial discrimination and lack of notification concerning road closures.
This year the police department is working in conjunction with FAMU to better inform students and visitors well about road closures, in advance. They are also attempting to prevent an occurrence like what happened last year at Governor’s Square Mall- where a panic broke out.
Police officers are planning to patrol the mall during the entire week, much like they did in 1997 and 1998 when scuffles in the food court caused pandemonium.
The police chief has ensured everyone that their concern has nothing to do with race, “but sheer numbers.”
These numbers seem impossible to overcome no matter what the race. Luanne Lenberg, general manager of the mall, doesn’t see a problem.
She feels as though no one in the mall is particularly “scared” of the large crowds. Yet preparations are always made just in case.
In addition to the malls, police are making sure that crowds don’t gather at other locations, such as key nightclubs in the area like the Moon and Super China Buffet. Although in the past FAMU students have felt discriminatory practices were at play, this year, in conjunction with FAMU, the TPD hopes to alleviate that notion.
Regardless of the race or numbers, the police department will have an arduous task ahead keeping everyone happy during Homecoming.
Bridget Nance, 20, is a junior public relations student from Alexandria, Va. She is The Famuan’s opinions editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.