What does it take for a Rattler to go viral? Not much, it seems. In fact, nothing at all.
Terica Williams (@tericastar) proved that on Friday when she shared photos from her graduation photoshoot on her Instagram account. However, the photo that shocked the internet is a picture of Williams standing completely nude in front of the rattler statue sitting in the heart of FAMU’s campus.
Less than 24 hours after Williams’ post went viral, FAMU released an official statement concerning the incident.
President Larry Robinson told The Famuan that the situation is being thoroughly investigated and the university neither condones this behavior nor does this represent the quality and character of FAMU’s outstanding students and alumni.
It’s no secret that Florida A&M graduates are well-known for executing creative, over-the-top photoshoots to commemorate the milestone. Past graduates have taken inspiration from music album covers, magazine covers and recreations of famous photos from celebrities.
Williams is a Summer 2022 graduate with a master’s in education. She said she chose to pose in the nude to promote body positivity and explain how her style does not prevent her from accomplishing her goals.
The caption attached to her post has also raised controversy. Instagram users have commented praising her, expressing their dislike, tagging gossip pages and making jokes.
The caption reads: “Anybody who knows me knows that I’ve been dressing provocative my whole life. There’s a lot of assumptions that have came with me accepting my body. A lot of people questioned my capabilities and intelligence solely based on how I choose to dress. As I’m standing here with my Masters Degree at the tinder age of 24, I am the living proof that clothes do not define you. I encouraged ever body to embrace their bodies and step outside social norms.
Terica Williams, M.Ed”
Dora Rose (@thedorarose) commented under Williams’ post, “Clothes don’t define you!! Congrats.”
While some found her post to be artistic or empowering, many FAMU alumni, students, parents, and faculty did not find this route appropriate, especially since it took place on campus.
Two-time FAMU alumna, Donielle Frost, commented under Williams’ post, “TRUST no one is trying (to) block your shine, but baby, there’s a place and time for everything. Have some respect for our prestigious university.”
Williams’ Instagram follower count doubled within a day of posting the photo of discussion. She currently has just shy of 20,000 followers after the post has circulated several media platforms over the course of the weekend.
The conversation regarding Williams quickly made its way to ‘FAMU Twitter’ where the jokes, ridicule, and applause continued. FAMU Twitter is a community of Twitter users that actively tweet or engage with tweets that concern the current hot topic on campus.
Furthermore, Williams is a member of Image Modeling Troupe at FAMU. The organization abstained from commenting on Williams’ photoshoot.
The same night Williams posted her risqué photo, she live-streamed from her Instagram page and accepted several requests from other users to join the live with her. Shardai Sallye joined her live to critique and reason with Williams about the photoshoot before being kicked off.
Sallye told the Famuan, “Truly, it was extremely disappointing to see a fellow rattler lack any accountability over the damage they’ve caused to our illustrious university. Through her selfishness, she, unfortunately, overshadowed the accomplishments of many summer grads and made a mockery of transfer students and FAMU’s Master’s Program. I wouldn’t be surprised if FAMU charged a pretty hefty fine and held her degree.”
Williams earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida International University (FIU) before enrolling at FAMU for her master’s degree. Many people question why Williams did not make such a bold statement regarding body positivity on her undergraduate campus.
Being that FAMU graduates are consistently going viral every graduation season for their photoshoot themes, many are accusing Williams of using the leverage of a reputation she did not aid in building to spark controversy in hopes it would promote her rap career.
The hired photographer for the photoshoot is FAMU alumnus Ernest Pierre (@ttsenre). Pierre was unable to be reached for comment.
An overwhelming number of people from the FAMU community are concerned about the effects that Williams’ statement about body positivity will have on FAMU graduation shoots and the university’s prestige.