It’s a new world at FAMU’s residence halls

Lt. James R. Polkinghorne Village East and West.
Photo courtesy: Tallahassee Democrat

The pandemic has changed campus life, and on-campus living is nothing short of that. With most courses being in-person and a campus filled with students, those living on FAMU’s campus this semester shared their perspectives.

Azaria Austin, a senior at FAMU, is a resident assistant in Lt. James R. Polkinghorne Village West. Austin has been living on-campus since her freshman year.

Austin shared her feelings about living on campus her first year.

“My first year was enjoyable, I would say,” Austin said. “I was in the (business) Living-Learning Community my freshman year, so that was even more fun.”

Austin said  the LLC contributed to her being on campus.

“I lived on the floor with all business majors, so we went to class, the café, and events together,” Austin said. “Majority of my friend group were from the LLC.”

Then she  transitioned from resident to RA. “Going from being a resident to being a RA was pretty good,” Austin said. “My first staff made me feel welcomed, and it was pretty cool. We got along pretty well.”

On Feb. 3, 2020, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Trump administration declared a public health emergency. This declaration was three days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency.

On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency.

Austin, a sophomore at the time, was a RA when the virus was declared a pandemic and national emergency.

She described what it looked like in the residence halls.

“When the pandemic first hit … there was no one here except 10 residents, and that’s being very liberal,” Austin said.

Austin said that  RAs did not feel safe, especially being considered  essential personnel. However, she is thankful to have shared that experience with the rest of her staff.

Austin returned for her junior year and second year as an RA in Polkinghorne Village in fall 2020.

“Protocols were different, masks everywhere, we (RAs) couldn’t sit at the desk together … and we had to get tested every two weeks,” Austin said.

“Protocols are more lenient [now], I will say, it’s not the same as it was when it first happened, probably because of the vaccine,” Austin said. “My feelings living on campus right now, I don’t mind it.”

On July 27, the Office of University Housing sent a communication concerning fall 2021 move-in protocols.

Aside from scheduling a move-in appointment, no move-in volunteers, and one hour allotted for unloading and parking, students moving on campus needed to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or negative test within three days of their scheduled move-in appointment.

Jacqui Paige, a junior, lives in Polkinghorne Village East. Paige has been living on campus all three years he’s been at FAMU.

Considering the fall move-in protocols and FAMU campus life at the moment, Paige said it’s been an odd time.

“Of course, the face masks are different, and everybody is more cautious because they don’t want to get sick,” Paige said. “To me, I don’t feel like it’s a big issue [living on campus during a pandemic] because I’m staying safe.”

Paige said he’s staying safe by taking vitamins, wearing a mask, and continuously sanitizing.

For more information on FAMU COVID-19 updates, visit