‘Black Panther’ drive-in a success — if you got in

The drive-in movie at Bragg Stadium. Photo by Tanasia A. Reed

Florida A&M Universitycelebrated its 133rd birthday on Saturday with a drive-in movie for students to get into the school spirit while being socially distant. Many students were excited to watch the award-winning Marvel Studios film, “Black Panther,” from their vehicles — but entering Bragg Stadium left students confused and frustrated because of unclear directions.

The drive-in was hosted by FAMU’s Student Government Association  with the assistance of the Efferson Student Union. SGA promoted the event with the disclaimer that only 200 cars would be allowed entry, which led to lines forming outside of Bragg an hour before the show at 7 p.m. Students coming from north and south of Wahnish Way attempted to enter Bragg Stadium, but only those coming from the south were able to make a left turn into the event.

As FAMU police informed each car coming from the north to get into the correct line, students were left frustrated and disappointed since there were not any detailed instructions for how they could enter the drive-in before the event. Senior information technology student Caleb McLean shared his disappointment over the lack of communication and his inability to join in on the festivities, even with his early arrival.

“I was in line from about 7:15 p.m. [when I got into the correct line] to about 7:48 p.m. [which is when I was told they were at full capacity],” McLean said. “I definitely believe it would’ve been better if they had people out there aiding and directing the cars. All of this would’ve been super organized if students had to RSVP beforehand.”

The intersection south of the stadium at Osceola Street and Wahnish Way was left unattended, which caused unsafe congestion in an accident-prone way. One FAMU police officer started to direct traffic but returned to his post after only 10 minutes, which led to students blocking the intersection, aggressively honking their horns.

Due to the overcrowded streets and hostile driving, other students decided to take matters into their own hands after the event reached full capacity. Students were seen parked in the campus parking garage and the Polkinghorne Village parking lot to see the movie from afar.

Tweets from FAMU students at the parking garage and Polkinghorne Village parking lot to see the drive-in movie. Photo courtesy @careyk_ and @carlynnberyy on Twitter

Desiree Lovely, a senior general health science student, had trouble entering the drive-in since she was sent to the back of the line for coming in the opposite direction.

“My overall experience was still good,” said Lovely.  “I watched from Village [parking lot] and I would love for SGA to plan something like this again.”

SGA President Xavier McClinton apologized on behalf of SGA and FAMU PD for the confusion about entering the event. McClinton agreed that having more staff to direct traffic and working closer with FAMU PD on how they would let students into the stadium would have led to a more efficient event.

According to McClinton, SGA was under the impression that FAMU PD would let students in from both sides one at a time, but this plan changed at the last minute as students began to arrive.

“I think conception-ally the event was really good, especially for the first time doing something like this on campus, ” McClinton said. “I think a couple logistically things we could have done better would be dealing with traffic and having concessions to offer students.”

McClinton said SGA does not have any definite plans for the next socially distant event for students due to complying with Student Health Services and protecting the “FAMUly” from COVID-19.

Students can only hope that more creative events like the drive-in can take place  to lift up their school spirit during the ongoing pandemic.