With a weakening economy and proposed budget cuts next fiscal year from the Florida Legislature, the annual FAMU Day at the Capitol could not come at a better time.
Nearly 200 Florida A&M University students marched to the Capitol on March 5 to represent the university. President James H. Ammons addressed the Senate.
“With over 55,000 graduates, most of whom reside in Florida, FAMU is an important contributor to the state’s economic and social framework,” Ammons said. “We are a leading contributor to Florida’s knowledge-based economy and a key supplier of highly skilled graduates that support the state’s important thriving industries. FAMU is a key partner in helping to build a better Florida.”
After, a reception filled with faculty, students and alumni was held. Ammons spoke about issues that faced students across the country and at FAMU.
“The hopes and dreams of our youth cannot be put on hold for finances,” Ammons said, referring to the tuition increase. “Let’s be mindful of students and their family’s ability to pay.”
Student Government Association President Andrew Collins, a graduate business administration student from Atlanta, said the day gave FAMU an opportunity to lobby politicians on the legislative and state level.
He said FAMU “lobbied our priorities, needs and necessities,” to the Legislature. Ronald Lumpkin, a professor at the School of Architecture, said the event was an opportunity for the state to see FAMU’s rich culture and dedicated Rattlers.
“I am more than proud to show my face here at the Capitol as an alumnus,” Lumpkin said.
Ammons addressed budget issues the state currently faces and asked Legislatures to consider cuts from education.
“We have lost $15 million dollars in a year and a half,” Ammons said. “Our university can’t take it.”
SGA Vice-President Mellori Lumpkin said the possibility that the proposed state budget cuts in education are frightening, but it is hopeful that the university will survive with less money.
“I am assured that FAMU will be okay in the next session,” Lumpkin said.
Collins said Ammons made very realistic points. He applauded the university’s president for acknowledging that students should not suffer as result of the economic downturn.
“He recognizes the need for continue affordable education and I know that FAMU’s commitment to excellence with care is wavering,” Collins said.
Seniors from the FAMU Developmental Research School were also in attendance.
“It’s a positive thing what Ammons is doing and it will be a real change,” said Ben Fullington, a senior at DRS from Miami.
Senators Frederica Wilson and Al Lawson were in attendance. Representative and FAMU Alumnus Alan Williams was also present
“We know what the dark times are,” Ammons said. “The future won’t wait and neither will our students.”