Students want candidates to hear their concerns

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As the campaign season gets under way, some students are apprehensive about whether real change will follow this election season.

Miss FAMU, Michelle Johnson, is ready to offer advice for the new candidates amidst questions of limited parking, financial aid complications, and Florida A&M University’s expansions in the Tallahassee community.

“I would love to see FAMU build up around campus,” said Kendall Harris, a senior public relations student from Tallahassee. “I would like to see restaurants, club areas, and more shopping areas around our campus with revenue coming towards FAMU.” According to the Tallahassee Democrat, more than 120 major development projects are under review or construction and there were no mentions of construction that would be beneficial to FAMU students. Gaines Street, which is roughly a half-mile from FAMU’s campus, will have buildings that are geared toward helping Florida State University students succeed. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, development continues around Florida State University campus as student apartments, restaurants and retail mushroom on and around Gaines Street.

Other students have more concerns with constructions on campus that need to be more beneficial to the students.

“It is hard to find parking.” said James Pierre, a senior computer engineering student from West Palm Beach. “The number of students are growing but the parking remains the same.”

William Hudson Jr., Vice President of Student Affairs, said that there are several opportunities to find adequate parking on campus. “We have parking in the gravel and the stadium and no one wants to park there,” said Hudson. “Anywhere you park on campus, the walk is no longer than 15 minutes. I remember getting all of those parking tickets when I attended this university and then I decided to come earlier and walk to class,” he added.

For most students, financial aid refunds have finally processed but some students are still waiting on their funds to pay for essentials such as rent, books and food.

“I remember last semester I didn’t get my aid until November,” said Starla Hill, a junior health information management student. “They need to do better. Financial aid should be received after the first week of class.”

Hudson said that funds are dispersed as timely as possible and it is imperative for students to make sure everything is in order in a timely manner. “It is actually illegal for students to not receive their funds on time and funds were dispersed the week after the drop and add period,” said Hudson. “Students need to make sure they are attending all classes during the first week of school, have their financial aid application completed correctly and make sure that they are passing these classes so they won’t fall below SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress) standards,” he continued.

. Hudson advises students to look to student accounts for refund processes rather than financial aid. “Students are blaming the wrong office. If you want your refunds, you should be talking to student accounts rather than financial aid,” Hudson said.

According to the FAMU website, refunds are only processed one day out of the week. “Financial Aid Refunds (excluding Work Study) will be processed weekly on Mondays (Tuesday if Monday is a holiday),” according to the website.

Students are looking for their elected officials to offer solutions for these problems in their platform points. Miss FAMU, Michelle Johnson, explains that there were some platform points that were easy to accomplish and others that she is still working on.

 “The easiest points to do were those that involved collaborating with the Royal Court because we worked well as a team and support each other,” said Johnson. “It was more difficult than I imagined to get alumni to respond to my request for support or participation through contributions of funds to establish and give a scholarship to a deserving student.” 

Her advice to the new candidates is to stay true to themselves and be open to the student body. “The non-negotiable things I would not do were to be someone else during the campaign.  I had to be myself and it was not negotiable to anything else.”

Hudson said student leaders should gear their platform points towards resolving student body concerns. “Ask yourselves what are the alternatives and are we using them all. If you want to build a new parking garage, attend the town hall meetings and create a referendum that explains where the money will be coming from,” he said.