Students head to D.C.

As the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama nears, Florida A&M University students will have the opportunity to witness the historic event.

A caravan of students will travel to the nation’s capital on buses provided by FAMU’s Student Government Association. However, only students that go with the university will have excused class absences.

Hawkins said he understands students’ concerns for missing class while on the trip. “I know some students may be worried about their absences,” Hawkins said. “Hopefully the teachers won’t be that adamant about excuses. But if so, I’ll write an excuse for those that purchased a ticket, not for those that go for free.”

The last day for students to register for the trip was Wednesday.

For the 18 registered students, the $200 fee includes transportation from Tallahassee to Washington, D.C. and lodging. The students will also have a chance to go to the National Mall to participate in the parade and Monday’s service project.

If the university is selected as the motor coach with a compelling story about their bus trip to the inauguration, they will have the chance to appear on The Early Show at CBS.

“Myself and Dean Kirby, which is the Dean of Students, decided to bring options to the students so that they could go,” said Morris Hawkins, SGA Coordinator of Accounting. “We wanted to make sure that our students capture the art of history of the first African-American that was appointed to office, in a position such as this.”

Student body president Andrew Collins, 23, said students should give their professors notification if they will be absent from class.

“They’ll only write excuses for those who are being transported to the inauguration with SGA,” said the fifth-year business administration student from Atlanta.

Provost and Vice President of FAMU’s Office of Academic Affairs Cynthia Hughes-Harris said class attendance is the university’s highest priority, but understands the historic nature of the event as students travel to Washington, D.C.

“I encourage them to work with their respective instructors to make certain that they meet the responsibilities of each class that they missed,” Hughes-Harris said. “I encourage instructors to work with any student who attends the inauguration,” she added.

As some students will travel with the university, others students said they will be using other means of transportation.

“I’m actually going with some of my friends to the inauguration, but not with the school,” said Krystal Segura, 23, a graduating senior health science student from Tallahassee. “I would have gone with the school, but we had already bought our plane tickets, and decided what we would be doing. And we’re staying with family, so it’s cheaper.”

Though many students are attending the presidential inauguration, there are still some that will be unable to go.

“I’m not going because I have to work and that is my only means of income,” said Jonathan Londono, 21, a junior Spanish student from Fort Lauderdale.

Londono added it would have been worthwhile to witness history in person.

“(I wanted to) be able to tell my own kids that I was there, but I don’t have the financial stability to put down the money to go,” he said.

SGA intends to take only two buses to Washington. They are also considering some students to come on the trip for free but a decision has not been made yet. People who purchased tickets, will receive their own hotel rooms.

“Further decisions regarding the arrangements and the itinerary will be determined before departure Sunday night,” Hawkins said.

For more information regarding the inauguration, please contact Morris Hawkins in Student Government at (850)599-3624.