The past year that I spent working with The Famuan has been the busiest, most intense year I have ever experienced and I would not change a thing.
When I came to Florida A&M January 2011, I never thought I would get to this position, especially not this quickly. Yet, had it not been for my time with newspaper, I would have never learned what I consider to be some of the most important lessons I will ever learn at this university.
As a staff writer in the spring 2011 semester, I was able to strengthen my writing and reporting skills. I had never written for a newspaper when I arrived at FAMU and the thought of it overwhelmed me. I wasn’t just writing for a grade anymore, I was writing for thousands of people that I will never meet.
I had never felt that kind of responsibility before. What I enjoyed most about that experience is that for the first time since coming to college, I finally got to apply things that I had learned in the classroom. As I wrote my articles, I remember consulting not only my AP Stylebook, but notes from my classes in ensure what I did was accurate.
Last semester, I was the deputy news editor. This time I got to be in the newsroom editing and assigning stories while still reporting. My writing and editing strengthened and I began to experience the other side of journalism, public backlash.
This all started with my first Marching “100” story about the lack of a membership term limit. I could deal with implied physical threats that many band members began throwing on Twitter. “The Marching 100 is mad and they know your name Jorge Rodriguez-Jimenez.” “All I know is if an #M100 member sees that writer on campus, there are def going to be words.”
None of which happened, despite me having to walk by the Music Department and band room that semester for class everyday.
What shocked me was my cell phone number being tweeted. That was ridiculous. And calling from a blocked number? How many people answer blocked calls or unknown numbers? I never do.
This semester as editor-in-chief, I have had to defend myself against personal attacks. When covering LGBT stories, people began to say my coverage was a conflict of interest. Not only is that wrong, it is indicative of the homophobic culture that is strong within this university.
To many times does the student body try to make a spectacle of the LGBT student population. When I covered the student rally in honor of the passing of the LGBT protection referendum, I remember a young lady trying to discretely sneak a picture of the students. When a student in the rally approached her to talk about what the rally was about, her smile turned to a look of disgust as she quickly walked away shaking her head holding up her hand.
I praise the FAMU administration for taking progressive steps for the LGBT community. They organized an LGBT Issues Fact Finding Committee to find ways to better integrate LGBT geared programs and reforms.
I also praise Avery McKnight and Dr. Yolanda Bogan for their work to integrate LGBT training sessions in staff meetings throughout the university. Bogan is working to administer LGBT training to faculty, staff and administration to bring LGBT issues to light. Avery McKnight was the first to step up and has invited Bogan to introduce her training session at the management seminar the university is hosting May 4.
I hope FAMU continues down its path of progressive thought and action. As my future alma mater, I know FAMU is capable of wonderful things, it just takes a little work and time. Our university is undergoing a major time of change and I believe the university will be stronger for it in the end.