Their campuses are 1.63 miles apart. They frequent the same events, eat at the same dining facilities, inhabit neighboring housing complexes and socialize in interconnecting circles of friends. Together, they represent approximately one-fourth of the black population in Tallahassee.
However, the black students at Florida State University and Florida A&M continue to struggle against misconceptions and stereotypes that inhibit communication between the two parties.
In an effort to dispel the myths about differences between students at the universities across the tracks, the FAMU Department of Diversity and the FSU Black Student Union (BSU) have teamed up to present an event called Building Black Unity.
After low attendance from black students at FSU at the affirmative action debate with the FSU College Republicans and the State of the Student Summit that was co-sponsored by the FSU Student Government Association, students in the FAMU Department of Diversity wanted to talk with the BSU about the potential to build relationships.
“It was interesting to see that the BSU didn’t seem to want to interact with FAMU,” said Secretary of Diversity and Applied Social Sciences student from Chicago, Hannah Brooks. “We have been given opportunities to interact and we haven’t.”
In order to reach out to the BSU to hear their side of the story, Brooks thought it would be appropriate to hold a joint panel discussion, which will take place on Thursday at 7 p.m.
“We want to foster black unity in Tallahassee and among the universities,” said Asha Rizor, a second-year biology student from Atlanta and a facilitator for the event. She believes it is also important to reveal the purpose and relevance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“I definitely wanted to come to an HBCU,” said Rizor, a scholarship student and member of the Honors program. She said her choice to come to FAMU did not have anything to do with not being accepted to predominately white institutions like the University of Georgia, Emory University, the University of Miami and Duke.
Newly elected BSU President Demitri Brome said the purpose of the event is to mend some broken relationships, develop sustainable solutions and dissolve the notion of black students at one school being better than the other.
“In the end we are all the same; we’re all minorities,” said Brome, “We have enough people beating up on us. We need to stop beating up on each other.”
Brome said FAMU was one of the universities he considered when applying to college.
“I applied to FAMU, and I never got a reply back,” said Brome, who wanted to follow in the footsteps of a mentor who went to FAMU. “The only colors he wore were purple and gold or orange and green.”
Students at both universities agree that the goal of the event is unity.
“We’re not going to make any progress if we don’t come together,” Brooks said. “We are missing out on a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Brome expressed enthusiasm and interest in developing an ongoing relationship with FAMU.
“I was very happy that they seemed so excited to do it,” Brooks said. “Laying this foundation gives me hope for what is to come.”