The face of student activism on Florida A&M University’s campus has changed over the years.
With growing concerns of issues detrimental to the student body along with needs not being met, students wonder if they can really make a difference.
Students are fed up and frustrated with current issues including block tuition, inadequate campus parking and the lack of available computers in the library, just to name a few.
FAMU Art professor Omar Thompson said he couldn’t count how many times he’s heard a student say, “I just want to get outta here.”
Thompson stressed how students can make FAMU better for those to come.
“You have power. Your parents have power. Start a petition or write a letter…when you see a bad situation, do something about it,” Thompson said.
Ashley Childs, a senior psychology student shared the sentiment of many on campus.
“I think people should be concerned, but personally I don’t have the time. People have complained about financial aid for years and nothing has happened. I don’t have the energy to fight if the outcome is always going to be the same,” Childs said.
Though some are discouraged about voicing their opposition, and taking matters into their own hands, FAMU students have always been known to be fighters.
The President’s House holds an exhibit that pays tribute to the activism of FAMU students. Articles, yearbooks, pictures and other historical references are on display reminding students of how far FAMU has actually come.
The exhibit displays the Civil Rights Movement in Tallahassee when theaters, restaurants and other public accommodations were desegregated with the help of the Rev. C.K. Steele, the Tallahassee community and FAMU students.
The largest demonstration in Tallahassee history is also featured in the exhibit. March of 2000, more than 11,000 protesters marched on the state Capitol to voice their opposition of the One Florida Initiative.
Though the fire isn’t burning as strong due to students’ current attitudes, some degree of passion for a better FAMU and community continues to stay alive.
For the presidential election of 2004, students held the “March Out 2004,” which rallied students, community members and leaders together to vote early and combat disenfranchisement.
“I was very proud,” said Commissioner Bill Proctor.
Proctor helped organize the march and believes that he has a great responsibility to motivate students to stand up and speak up for themselves.
Teachers are not alone in motivating students to speak out and familiarize themselves with their rights.
Entertainment attorney, L. Londell McMillan spoke to a mass of people at the Leon County Courthouse for a John Kerry and John Edwards rally a few days before the “March Out 2004,” to encourage early voting.
As an advocate for human and artists’ rights, he said students should be prepared by knowing their rights.
Leaders on campus explained what it may take for students to become active in what they believe in.
“Students have to feel like someone is actually listening to them,” said Virgil Miller, FAMU student government president.
Miller went on to say that it would be more effective if students take advantage of their government elected officials rather than complain individually among themselves.
“My hope is that students are never satisfied.
That’s something I live my life by; that I’d never be satisfied with the current situation.
Things can always be better and when you’re never satisfied, you’re always working to make things better,” Miller said.
Contact Samantha Luck at firstname.lastname@example.org.