Florida A&M students registered on Thursday to attend the Florida Blue Florida Classic this weekend.
The student senate allocated funds on Nov. 5 to provide 204 students with lodging and transportation for the price of a $10.75 game ticket. Students were notified via social media, text and email with information regarding the bus sign-up beginning Tuesday at 8 a.m. Students could log onto FamMail and find a link to submit their requests.
The football game versus Bethune-Cookman University marks the 33rd anniversary of the longtime rivalry. The halftime Battle of the Bands performance by the Marching “100” draws tens of thousands of spectators. However, home game attendance has been low following the band’s suspension and hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.
Bernard Jackson, a senior jazz studies and music industry student from Tampa and senate president, said he was disheartened by the turnout at the Atlanta Classic on Sept. 29.
“After being on tour with Prince the month of September, I attended the Atlanta Classic and was disappointed at the student turnout,” Jackson said. “Being away for so long, I was unaware of the lack of student morale.”
Jackson spoke with William Hudson, vice president of Student Affairs, to get ideas to revamp game attendance.
After that, Jackson and Sen. Stanley Hardy, a senior political science student from Miami, decided to spearhead an initiative aimed to excite students again.
“Student leadership is excited to provide a service to students that would not have the opportunity to experience an away game due to financial burdens,” Hardy said.
Kevin Lee, a second-year business administration student from Palm Beach, said he was elated to hear about the plan and intends to enjoy every aspect of the trip.
“I’m looking forward to supporting my team, celebrating with my fellow students and seeing my family in Orlando,” Lee said.
However, some students are not enthused about the trip and the absence of the Marching “100” may deter others from attending.
Melanie Mitchell, a second-year information technology student from Atlanta and third-generation Rattler, said she is skeptical.
“Though I’m going to the game, I probably won’t have fun without the band,” Mitchell said. “That’s the best part. It has been the highlight for me since I was young. I’ve gone to almost every classic since I was born.”
Jackson said he knows nothing will change overnight. He is, however, adamant about the importance of uniting and supporting the university’s football team. He said busing more than 200 students to the Florida Classic “isn’t going to make or break anything,” but it will be a small step towards rebuilding Rattler pride.
“This is the biggest game in my opinion,” Jackson said. “The band is irreplaceable. However, student participation at every student event is a key component to making events like the Classic memorable and keeping our legacy alive.”