Many students were excited to either begin or continue their collegiate career on campus after what seemed to be the longest running spring break in history. However, the eagerness for social functions, homecoming and the infamous Set Friday would soon be diminished due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University made the decision to reopen campus with distinct safety measures that included a new concept of virtual courses. The limitation of campus events ultimately eliminates one of my personal favorite FAMU traditions, Set Friday.
Coming into FAMU as a transfer student, I have always heard of the great joy our Set Friday has brought to students and locals alike. Notorious for food, live music and fellowship, Set Friday has continued to be a peak in my FAMU experience.
One student, Ashyln Freeman, said that her love for Set Friday is that it unites the entire student body through live social interaction and entertainment.
“Not only is the level of energy unmatched,” Freeman said. “But you also are given the opportunity to network with others and learn about upcoming black owned businesses.”
In June President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. and University leadership discussed FAMU’s reopening plans in a virtual town hall. According to an email from Provost Maurice Edington, Nearly 700 participated on Zoom and more than 5,200 viewed the event on Facebook. As FAMU has taken extreme measures to ensure safety for students and faculty, in essence, they have taken the events we cherish as well.
While it is true that Set Fridays have not received the same enthusiasm from students in the more recent years as it did several years ago, students like myself have taken to Twitter to express our need for socialization and how much we took events such as Set Friday for granted.
One student Azana Mason tweeted, “The first Set Friday after COVID-19 is going to be a movie.”
Many others have since shared similar sentiments. Morgan Pinnock, senior pre-physical therapy scholar and current Queen of Orange and Green, felt that FAMU is all about Black excellence and the connections you make.
FAMU still hosts Set Friday virtually via Instagram Live. The amount of participation in the live stream is drastically low in comparison to the in-person event however, I appreciate the efforts. With the virtual concept, current students and alumni alike can now tune in from the comfort of their homes and reminisce on their days at The Set while DJ Loose Kid plays some of our favorites.
Christelle Haygood, a junior business administration student said, “it’s a great opportunity for good music and a great self-care outlet.”
While I feel the virtual concept is as good as it gets, others are having a hard time getting behind the new Set Friday.
Chazriq Clarke, a junior theatre performing arts & business administration student, doesn’t like the new concept of a virtual Set Friday.
“I believe that how OSA goes about advertising, marketing and hosting Set Friday is all wrong,” Clarke said. “It would be better if they were to actually have hosts and people keeping the energy up in the live.”
My Senior year at FAMU has definitely not been like anything that I could have imagined. From the possibility of missing my very last homecoming, to longing for Set Friday. FAMU’s new virtual reality is definitely going to take some getting used to.