Rattler Roundup presents challenges for student organizations


Members of SISTUHS, Inc. before COVID-19. Photo courtesy of @famu_sistuhs on Instagram

Florida A&M University hosted a webinar on Monday that clubs and organizations were required to attend in order to be considered active this semester. Out of the many speakers and topics, students were looking forward to learning about the new regulations regarding having virtual events, and many things have changed.

Before COVID-19 swept the country, FAMU’s guidelines for events were straightforward. You had to submit a facility request in order to use a building on campus for meetings or events. Some organizations would instead use the library or another easily accessible place to have their meetings so they wouldn’t have to go through those steps, and virtual meetings or virtual events were fine. However, now that every club/organization is working remotely, the university has decided they want to know exactly what these registered organizations are doing.

Felicia Barnes, the coordinator for student organizations, explained that doing events on Zoom or Instagram does not exempt you from filling out a request form.

“Anything that you do in the name of your organization that’s registered here at this campus has to go on a facility request form,” Barnes said. “Regardless of if it’s on campus or not.”

However, no one is allowed to submit their forms yet. The organizations need to get approved to be active which won’t happen until next week, according to Chazmen Geames, who is over fraternity and sorority life. At the webinar, he gave a rough timeline for students to keep in mind. Once the approval process is over, you have to submit your facility request form 10 business days before the virtual event will take place, and multiple faculty members have to look the forms over. Geames said events probably will not be taking place until around Sept. 28.

ESU Flyer
ESU Flyer Rattler Roundup flyer. Photo courtesy of Efferson Student Union.

This causes concern in many student organizations, and some of them have even had to cancel events already or change their calendars for the semester. SISTUHS, Incorporated is an example of an organization that has had to adjust to the new rules. It had multiple events planned, including a Zoom organization fair. However, those events had to be canceled in light of the new rules.

Sarah Williams, a student at FAMU and vice president of SISTUHS, says these new rules could hinder the retention rates and intake processes for multiple organizations on campus.

“It’s hard to host events that aren’t trite and common since we all are so limited,” Williams said. “We have tried to push everything to be virtual, but some things were not able to be.”

The university wants to ensure that all organizations on campus are adhering to the rules and regulations, as well as staying true to their core mission. The rules may not be favorable to some, but many students have said they understand that we are living in unprecedented times and it is an adjustment for everyone, including the university faculty.

Williams believes that FAMU is doing the best it can with everything that is happening in the world, even if she does not necessarily understand some of the rules.

“I think it’s hard to create new rules and restrictions in a remote setting,” Williams said. “I think they’re doing their best to accommodate all organizations and clubs and review them.”