University President Fred Gainous, faculty and students gathered in Lee Hall Auditorium Monday night for a town hall meeting to discuss the state of the University.
At the meeting, organized by the Men of Distinction and hosted by the Student Government Association, students heard from President Gainous, SGA President Larry O. Rivers and Provost Larry Robinson.
The night began with Rivers’ State of the Student Body address. He encouraged students to remain diligent and support causes they believe in, and suggested that students be as excited about University town hall meetings as they are about concerts.
“Do not be discouraged that many of our peers are asleep or getting ready to go out and have a good time,” said Rivers, a senior public relations student from Tallahassee. “Believe in the power of a few.”
Rivers also explained how SGA has responded to students’ needs by implementing a campus readership program, bringing The New York Times and USA Today to students free of cost; renovating the Gray Core Plaza and securing a contract to open the Rattler’s Edge Barbershop and Beauty Salon on campus.
Rivers’ message did not end with the students. His comments about the attitudes of the University’s administration drew applause from the audience.
“No one who holds a position at this University should get so high and mighty that we believe we are irreplaceable,” Rivers said. “(Their) position is not a right, it is a privilege.”
Despite many accomplishments and achievements, Rivers acknowledged that FAMU still has areas to improve. One of those areas is increasing its efforts to bring national merit scholars to FAMU. “This University must double its efforts to return to the recruitment of National Merit Scholars,” Rivers said.
To close his passionate message, Rivers said, “It is our job to make sure that the University continues to grow.”
With loud applause from the audience Rivers shouted, “FAMU must live forever!”
Many students such as Charles Sims, a junior history student from Miami, were looking forward to the question and answer session with President Gainous.
“I am looking forward to hearing what President Gainous has to say,” Sims said. “I hope that he will actually answer all of our questions and not dance around the tough ones.”
One of the topics discussed was concerning missing money.
“No money is missing, I don’t know from where the notion of missing money came,” Gainous said.
Gainous also addressed the construction on Sampson and Young Halls.”The decision was made not to go and drastically renovate those dorms because they would still not be up to standards.”
A question was posed about the president’s vision for FAMU in the next 20 years. “I believe 20 years from now, we will be among the leading universities in the nation,” Gainous said.
Students also wanted to know the reason the decision to move to Division I-A status was delayed.
“The move was held up mainly by academics,” Gainous said.
He also said that FAMU’s facilities are not up to par. “Lincoln High School has a better field house than we do.”
The Men of Distinction had mixed feelings about the town hall meeting.
“The meeting was a success, a step forward in the right direction,” said Frederick Simmons, 19, a freshman from Hernando. “However, I feel there should have been more time for students.”
The young men said some attendees were disappointed because they did not get their concerns addressed.
“Some students left in a rage because they feel that SGA and the University duped them,” said Adrian Abner, 19, a freshman political science student from Blountstown.
“I feel that this is a wonderful place, but we have a long way to go.”
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