When some students came back from winter break, it would be hard for them to not notice Florida A&M’s newest recruitment tool parked by Bragg stadium.
Large enough to block the sun when standing nearby, student, parents and pretty much anyone on the road will see FAMU’s 57-seat charter bus rushing along with all its glory comprised with a giant orange and green rattler on the side and large print FAMU.
“When you see a bus that says ‘FAMU rattlers’ coming into the city, you’re going to know that is FAMU, so it hypes the market out there to go and find out what FAMU is about,” said Morris Hawkins, the coordinator of accounting for the student government association.
Hawkins said the idea for the buses has been one in the making but since receiving the funds, it finally came to fruition.
“The idea of the buses first came up during my first year as the comptroller, working up under the administration of Philip Agnew and Monique Gillum. I approached them with the idea of purchasing buses and of course we didn’t have the money at that time, so the idea was a good one but it couldn’t move forward because of the funding issue.”
Purchasing two of the charter buses, each with a FAMU design, the total cost was $400,000– $200,000 per bus.
“The money was received through the carry forward account,” Hawkins said. “We received $2 million last year in carry forward dollars.”
Unused activities and service fees from the past year go into the Carry Forward account.
“The funding was approved last year and the buses arrived here on the week of Thanksgiving,” Hawkins said.
Although the buses are on a five year least, Hawkins assured that the full purchase amount was already set aside and that payments are taken out automatically each month.
Hawkins said the charter buses don’t stay at FAMU too often because of the constant travel from different school departments and the recruitment team.
“This is one of the best recruitment material that FAMU has,” Hawkins said. “For this month alone, the buses have traveled nine to ten times. The CESTA department just rented the bus to go to Baltimore for a conference and the softball team rented the bus out as well to go to Orlando for their game against UCF.”
The buses are loaded with six flat-screen TVs and with seat colors orange and green.
“FSU doesn’t quite have something like this,” Hawkins said while admiring the bus.
SGA Program Assistant David Holloway-Boyd helped complete the design of the bus and agreed with Hawkins that the buses help promote the FAMU brand but also helps save FAMU money, travel fee wise.
“I feel like the buses are more convenient overall for the students,” Holloway-Boyd said.
“It’s cheaper overall for the students as well instead of having to spend $8,000 or $7,000 every time we need to use somebody else’s bus.”
Hawkins said that to fill the charter bus’s gas take, it might take $480 to $500. He also said that their drivers are paid by trip which usually $150 a day.
“Actually, most people don’t know that it takes a lot just to schedule a bus through the University,” Holloway-Boyd said.
Holloway-Boyd did plan the design but not without additional help from the university’s graphic designer.
“The design basically came in with the bus. We didn’t pay anything for the design,” Hawkins said. “Between our graphic designer, David Holloway-Boyd, and also the university graphic designer, that’s how the design was made.”
Hawkins said that the buses are scheduled to leave for a presidential tour and a spring break tour.
Many students may have seen the bus but some students are confused on its purpose.
“The students don’t know too much about why they purchased the buses but the reason I’m sure, was important,” said Carlos Benjamin, 21, fourth-year student of construction engineering technology from Jacksonville. “Whatever they can do to attract students to come to FAMU, I think it’s a good deal.”
Hawkins said alumni and various others on the road wave and honk their car horns as the buses passes by. Holloway-Boyd concurs.
“I feel like it set a standard for the university because once you see the FAMU buses roll up, people are in awe. It’s a staple for the university,” Holloway-Boyd said.