Student Death Should Provoke Unity

Shannon Washington, a Florida A&M University student athlete was killed this past Sunday. Early Sunday morning, Tallahassee Police Department responded to a report of a stabbing at University Courtyard apartment complex.

When they arrived, officers found Washington with a knife wound to the neck reportedly from her friend Starquinesha Palmer. Washington was transported to the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where she later died from her injuries

The incident with Washington should be a daunting wake-up-call to FAMU students to change the status quo. It’s something that should cause Rattlers around the country to become infuriated and ready to take action.

Outbursts of violence toward another individual as a result of a disagreement reminds me of the daily issues I face on my job – at a daycare. At my job, the average age of a child is eight and in third grade. I’m accustomed to dealing with children hitting and kicking each other over arguments instead of their words. As a result of their actions, I am forced to put the child in “time-out” and call their parent for being violent. It’s sad that the actions occurring at my school mimic, on a much larger scale, the same actions that occur at my job, particularly at an institution that prides itself on training future minority leaders and scholars.

FAMU’s Police Department reports that the crime rate involving FAMU students has increased more than six percent within the last year. Many may perceive Washington’s murder as an isolated incident that has nothing to do with FAMU, but it does. FAMU no longer sets the standard academically, politically and socially for the local black community. In Fall 1993, Time Magazine’s Princeton Review recognized FAMU for having the highest number of National Achievement Scholars in the country, with 73 scholars to Harvard’s 49. In 1997, Time Magazine voted FAMU as ” The College of the Year.” In recent years, it seems FAMU has simply lost its way.

It’s assumed that since FAMU is an HBCU, incidents of students being murdered are commonplace and to be expected, which is why it is up to Rattlers to not allow Washington’s death be looked upon as just another tragedy at FAMU. This incident should be “the incident” that will never happen again.

Discussions should be centered around what happened to the rising star. Instead of avoiding the topic as a “taboo subject,” her name and her life should be commemorated and honored as a valuable and important one. Encourage friends to seek help in dealing with unstable, potentially volatile relationships, and listen to friends in need. In the shadow of the recent memorial dedicated to civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., and remember that passively accepting injustice is perpetuating injustice. Don’t ever let Washington’s name be uttered as just another statistic.