Signs stating messages such as, “Please don’t walk on the grass” and “Keep FAMU green, use the sidewalk,” were just a few ways FAMU students protested this week on Florida A&M University’s campus. The protest was held in the efforts to preserve the campus beauty. The protest began Monday and will last until November 19.
The initiative name of the protest was “Mills Cleaning and Greening Committee,” after professor of African-American history, Jeffery Mills, who is striving to get FAMU students to take responsibility of the way the campus looks.
“The purpose of the protest is to restore a sense of university pride on campus,” Mills said. “A well kept university attracts prospective students and is a direct reflection of the attitudes and personalities on campus.”
The weeklong protest began by the Eternal flame and in the grassy area of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication building.
Mills asked his two African American history classes to participate, and over 200 students signed up before the protest could even take place.
The protest required students in Mills class to stand in front of any area of grass on campus, hold up signs and request that people not walk on the grass.
The initiative of the protest has gained recognition from students as well as faculty.
“We’ve been getting some positive feedback,” Mills said. “Dr. Ammons told me that he was impressed by the initiative and I informed my students which caused more students to join.”
The students of Professor Mills’ class said that receiving extra credit points or getting on the professor’s good side were not the reasons why they decided to join the protest.
“For me it means that other schools will be able to look at our campus and not have anything negative to say,” said Dejenabra Bland, 18, a first year pre-pharmacy candidate from Miami. “Overhearing the alumnae from homecoming complain about the condition of our school is what really got to me.”
Besides extra credit, some students participated in the protest because they were upset with students and faculty who walk in the grass.
“We should want our grass to look green, but people are just being plain out rude for no reason,” said Erika Willis, 18, a freshman fine arts student from Decatur, GA said. “Professors have even walked on the grass.”
While Willis was upset with people walking through the grass on campus, there were some students who agreed with her.
Triniece Pollock, 18, a freshman psychology student from Miami said that she has never walked on the grass around campus and that this protest should change the mind of a lot of people.
“I have seen more people walk on the sidewalks now, and I have never seen that before” Pollock said. “I think this is a good project and more people should get involved.”
Though Mills’ students are making an effort to tell others about the protest, some students were still unimpressed.
“It’s irrelevant. If you’re a student paying tuition, it should not matter,” said Catia Farrington, 24, a junior animal science student from Miami. “We didn’t kill the grass because we were walking on it. If they watered the grass more, it wouldn’t die. Why after all this time? Generation after generation has been walking on the grass?”
Professor Mills had to explain the importance of their initiative to many students who thought their effort was pointless.
“I don’t want students to have the idea that there are two standards of excellence: what is maintained by African Americans and what is maintained by Caucasians. People tend to think African American standards are much lower than the standards of Caucasians.” Mills said. ” I wanted students to understand that we reject the idea that you can look at a university and tell that it is maintained by African Americans; it should look like a place where scholars of all colors reside.”