I cautiously pulled my car, Minerva, into a parking space behind the library around 7:28 a.m. looking out for Parking Services and hoping to avoid becoming a “bootee.”
Feeling safe with my space, I hurried toward the School of Business and Industry parking lot afraid that I would miss the chance to display my school pride with the hundreds of other students I knew were already there.
However, my heart sank when I saw the opposite.
I counted 15 people at 7:31 a.m. – not including the members of the Marching 100, the CNN crew or the faculty and staff. Just 15 FAMU students managed to pull back those comfortable bed sheets, either for extra credit or obligation, and stand with digital cameras and egg McMuffins ready for CNN.
“Where is everyone?” I asked.
“In the bed,” was my answer.
DeJaundre Meekins, a Florida State University graduate student, was thrilled about CNN broadcasting live from FAMU but was also puzzled by the attendance. Meekins asked, “Where are y’all at?”
By 7:45 a.m., more students shuffled their way to the parking lot raising the total to 36.
Even the ‘100’ found the student participation lackluster, but mentioned that they did not hear about it until Monday when they were told they would be performing.
Ashley Milton, 20, a sophomore political science student from Oakland, Calif. said, “If it was publicized more, I would have definitely been out there. But I had no idea it was going on.”
As I was listening to the Marching ‘100’ play a medley of songs, I observed that students stood huddled together trying to brace the morning cool of 63 degrees,while the faculty and staff danced along with the tunes of the band. Many students heading to their morning classes stopped to see what was going on and continued their routes. Some students just kept walking.
By 8:45 a.m., about 80 students were clapping to the ‘100’s’ “Do What You Wanna” as CNN broadcasted live.
I suppose I should have been satisfied with the amount of students that were able to show up early that morning. I suppose the acceptable excuses would be that more students were not able to come because of the “lack” of publicity or because they simply had to go to class.
But I once heard that “mediocrity as a standard is unacceptable.” It was repulsive to hear the excuses from fellow students about why they did not feel it was important or they forgot or how tired they were or how they all mysteriously had early morning classes. Passing up the chance to represent our University on a national and global stage because of a petty reason is unacceptable.
Understand, my love and devotion for this University lies not only in its legacy but its possibilities. Not for the parties or the 50 talent shows that take place in a year, but the potential in the people that fill the classrooms each day. After Tuesday, I questioned my non-refundable membership in the student body, our standard and our potential.
As Minerva as I rode off into the sunrise, her gas light signaled she was out of gas. Ironically, she wasn’t the only one.