New residence hall for FAMU sparks debate

FAMU Village, currently the newest dorm on campus.
Raiyana Malone | The Famuan

Year after year Florida A&M University (FAMU) enrolls close to 10,000 students. As of late this number has begun to increase, and the university is often scrambling  to not only find housing to accommodate this growing number, but also housing that is suitable for students to live in. 

Many of the on-campus facilities remain uninhabitable because it requires more funding to upkeep these dorms than FAMU has access to.

With Gov. Rick Scott’s signature amplifying the modification of House Bill 375, which was sponsored by FAMU alum Rep. Ramon Alexander, FAMU has been awarded the opportunity to go outside the state system to obtain the funds to build a 700-bed residence hall that will include a dining facility.

The new dorm is scheduled to be construction on the southeast corner of campus, where MLK Boulevard and Osceola Street meet. 

“By modifying these restrictions to permit the use of federal grant and contract funds to cover debt payments, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University to participate in the federal HBCU Program, thereby providing new opportunities for the institution to find needed capital improvements,” according to HB 375.

In the aftermath of Scott’s approval, the FAMU Board of Trustees voted unanimously to pursue the HBCU option for funding, and earlier this month the Board of Governors gave its OK. 

FAMU Student Government Association President David Jackson is ready for students’ needs to be met and believes that living conditions have a direct impact on student matriculation. 

“Housing is critical to the FAMU experience and good academic performance for our first year students who are required to live on campus,” said Jackson.

This decision will also take action to decommission Palmetto North, Truth Hall and Paddyfoote. Many of these facilities have been temporarily shut down or gained media attention due to unsatisfactory living conditions. 

Mold is the trending topic around Paddyfoote. Cassandra Clitus, a Paddyfoote resident, says it’s time for a change. She said the university is finally listening to students. 

“It makes me feel as if I’m not appreciated,” said Clitus, who suffers from asthma and other health conditions that are aggravated by the conditions in the residence hall. 

Some upperclassmen are uneasy about the recent approval and believe that the money from the grant could be used for other things around campus besides a new dormitory. 

Cameron Morrell, a sophomore, says the approval of the Historic Housing plan is a mixed blessing for him. “It’s necessary but it’s also not necessary. We should just remodel the ones we have now,” he said.

For senior Quincy Davis, the demolition of Truth, Paddyfoote and Palmetto North means that FAMU will be losing a part of its history. “From a progressive standpoint it’s a good move for FAMU, however the buildings that are being torn down are a large part of FAMU history. They represent almost a millennia of Rattlers that helped create what FAMU is today.”

Davis said the money from the grant could also go toward a remolded campus recreation center, an updated cafeteria or even more parking. “It will both benefit the current students and increase the likelihood of new students enrolling here at FAMU,”  Davis said.