Early last week, there was a letter posted anonymously in various locations on Florida A&M University’s campus. This letter titled “We Pay to Have a Say,” and signed “The Weary Student,” created a mild uproar amongst students.
The letter posed many questions such as: how is the money that students pay to this university being utilized? When will residence halls be getting renovations? Why do we have new building signs but there are still many schools and colleges in need of more professors?
“We used to be the MECCA of progression, the spark to political flame…I’m challenging everyone who holds a rattler card to start asking questions, looking for answers, and holding folks accountable. Things will never change if we don’t expect them to. The students that spend thousands of dollars here every semester are the ones that should have the most to say. ”
Adrianna Bayles, a first year political science student, said that she agrees with what was written in the letter.
“There are a lot of things that need to be fixed on campus regarding housing, the hours that the café and dining halls stay open and overall building maintenance.”
As expressed in the letter, “The Weary Student” questioned why there are empty student housing buildings when there are so many first-year students in need of on-campus housing.
Popular concerns amongst FAMU students include the need for on-campus housing renovations, adequate parking, and more convenient dining hall hours. Many students expect for the Student Government Association (SGA) members who were elected into office to handle these issues.
“The Weary Student” touches on this subject by stating that student leaders on this campus have not done enough to resolve some of the concerns.
“These positions that you all run for every spring and have mental breakdowns over actually mean something! They are a chance to promote and bring about progress, not just resume builders.”
With a desire to defend student leaders, second year SGA member Taylar Hall gave her input on the expectations that students have for their elected campus officials.
“I completely agree with everything that was said in the letter but people often forget that just because we are SGA members doesn’t mean that we aren’t students too. A lot of people think that SGA students can automatically make decisions and fix all these concerns.”
Hall made it clear that although student leaders are held to a higher standard and expected to assist with resolving issues, it is important that students find a better way than social media to voice their opinions.
“Formal complaints should be heard in the senate chambers. I think a big problem is that FAMU students don’t want to go to the source. It’s always a tweet about this being broken, or something negative posted on social media for all the world to see, instead of coming to discuss these issues with people who have the power to make these changes.”
Dr. William E Hudson, Jr. FAMU’s Vice President of Student Affairs, is always open to address students concerns.
Hudson believes that all students, faculty, and staff members have the right to express themselves. He is not upset about the letter, however, he feels that some of the grievances listed in the letter are misleading.
“For example, funds designated for infrastructure or buildings cannot be used for personnel. Students pay activity and service fees that can only be spent on items designated by the SGA Student Senate. Information on the cost for tuition and fees students are located on the Student Accounts website: www.famu.edu/studentaccounts. The site lists the fee schedule and it is posted every year for students, parents and constituents to review.”
Hudson also stated that students should use proper protocol for voicing complaints if they actually want solutions to their problems.
“There are several staff members willing to discuss any issue with students. Make an appointment and visit with the particular offices. We actually hired and trained students to serve as Campus Liaisons to help students gain knowledge from their peers. The Campus Liaisons and staff participate in Town Halls, Dorm Storms, Set Friday, New Student Orientation, Fall Preview and Spring Preview to provide parents and students information ranging from financial aid, money management, and academic advising as well as other important topics.”
The only advice Hudson had to offer students with concerns is to express them in a constructive manner.
“Completing research to verify that statements made are accurate is very important to do prior to expressing an opinion, particularly if it is negative. If you state a negative opinion without correct facts to back it up it can cause irreparable damage.”