Students voice concerns as FAMU prepares to reopen

Students will be back on campus in August. Photo by Tenae Taylor

Earlier this week, the Board of Governors approved fall semester reopening plans for the 12 universities in the Florida State University system.

Students at Florida A&M have been anxiously waiting to hear about the course of action for the upcoming semester due to COVID-19. Though many students miss the on-campus university experience, they are concerned about the risk that reopening operations might pose.

Eddlentz Philistin, a senior majoring in accounting, said, “I don’t like remote classes as it doesn’t work well for my learning style. Beyond that, I think it’s unfair to be charged a bunch of fees for resources when I’m not using them because my classes will be online.”

It is still unclear which classes, colleges and student classifications will have remote classes as opposed to on-campus. According to FAMU’s reopening plan, class sizes will be smaller to allow social distancing. There will be a variety of ways in which class will be held including completely remote, hybrid, and on-campus during the week and weekends.

As COVID-19 cases steadily rise in the state of Florida, the decision may seem premature. “I know people haven’t been taking the precautions to stay safe during the pandemic. I think it’s a mistake to open back operations in the fall but I understand,” said Lonnie Johnson, a graduate student at FAMU.

When the outbreak first occurred, many students were eager to switch to remote learning but soon learned it was different from what they expected. “The problem isn’t working remotely, but Zoom is an inconvenience and a waste of time. Professors should just post lectures online and allow us (students) to work at our own pace,”Philistin said.

For incoming freshmen, their entire introduction to FAMU will be unconventional. There was no in person orientation or on-campus classes for them to begin their matriculation on The Hill.

Though many of them are used to remote learning from their last days of high school, summer students didn’t anticipate starting their first semester remotely.

Some are still hopeful that they can have a semi-normal semester this fall. Freshmen are typically the largest class on campus, and that means a lot of income for the school to have them on campus. They spend the most on housing and meal plans tuition in addition to tuition.

University officials say they have taken considerable time to come up with the plan to best serve the university, its students and stakeholders. Rica Calhoun, who delivered the plan to the BoG, said, “We’re very confident in the plan.”

Still, many students are anxious to see how this will play out.