I come from a long line of Florida A&M graduates. My mom and almost her entire side of the family graduated from FAMU.
Most went on to become grade school teachers and professors and of course all come back during homecoming to bask in the university’s greatness. I guess you could say it’s similar to a family reunion—each sharing their love of their alma mater and its motto: Excellence with caring.
However, just like a cousin that hasn’t been seen in while, FAMU has grown and it has changed; some debate that it has changed for the better and some believe it has changed for the worse. Keyword: Change.
FAMU has changed and change is inevitable.
I’ve heard the many stories about FAMU, some horror stories about financial aid and some success stories about the football team’s achievements and FAMU being named school of the year.
Lately, however, with the constant talks of budget cuts, program cuts and lay-offs, a dark period seems to be rising. But as cliché as it may sound, every dark cloud has a silver lining.
It’s scary to hear that so many changes will be made to the university.
This calls for readjustment and for those who are comfortable where they are and the image that FAMU has right now, they don’t want it. From the many interviews and meetings that I have held and attended as a student journalist, I’ve come to understand that this change has not come abruptly—it was slowly happening before our eyes with each Board
of Governors meeting and each Board of Trustees meeting.
FAMU is not the only university that is suffering massive chops to its budget.
With each passing year, tuition has risen and more of higher education’s funding has been severed, but as students, we simply don’t see it or just don’t care.
When I was a child, I wanted toys and video games. I didn’t care how I got them. My mom might’ve not bought them for me because she may not have had the money then. I didn’t understand it because the only thing I understood was that I wanted something and not the fact that she had to pay bills. I apply this example to many of our students because many of us only care about having our classes paid for and a nice, fat net check, but I implore many of us to understand why changes are being made and the cost behind each credit hour.
Fiancial aid, except scholarships and Pell grants, have to be paid back and according to past president forums, half of the university ‘s students use federal money and honestly, that’s your money. But since we don’t have to pay it back right away, tuition increases seem to not be a big deal—as most might say.
But it is a big deal because it’s tacked onto a bigger issue that needs not be taken lightly: restructuring. At the campus forum held March 28, the key discussion was about the updated plans to make the university a bit more efficient with fewer people, merging programs or cutting them all together. Turnout was low – mostly faculty and staff who showed up to defend certain programs, but student input and attendance was low.
However, one student made a strong comment at the forum about how as students, we are the people keeping the university around because we are the customers and as customers, our opinions should matter most. But I believe as students, some of us fail to become involved in what programs stay and what programs go; if we’re not directly affected by it then we don’t care or we just don’t understand.
At many of the Board of Trustees meetings that I attend, it is sometimes hard to keep up with what is going on because legal terms are tossed around. The information packet is pretty thick and you may need an accounting degree to figure it out. It shows the agenda of things to vote on from how much money is spent on housing improvements and students fees, it sometimes looks like hieroglyphics.
But all it takes to fully understand a process is by asking questions and being assertive to know the future of our university.
Good or bad, change is coming to our university. Despite the big titles that many university and government officials carry, students and alumni have a big voice in what stays and what goes.
All it takes it a stance.