Is Tallahassee losing its appeal for students?

Sign on the door at GVO. Photo courtesy:

Tallahassee has witnessed significant upheaval in 2022, prompting some to wonder if the city has lost its appeal. There has been an increase in shootings near FAMU and FSU, popular clubs and restaurants have closed, and FAMU, has been portrayed poorly in the media on several occasions.

There was a notable surge in gun violence at the start of the year. According to the Tallahassee Police Department, there were 26 shootings in January, resulting in 5 deaths. According to William Hatfield, editor of the Tallahassee Democrat, there was an alarming number of shootings in 2022.

“There were at least four shootings in the first week of the new year,” Hatfield reported, “leaving three people dead and at least two injured, according to a running Tallahassee Democrat analysis of gun violence.”

Gun violence has hardly slowed down. There have been shootings at popular clubs and restaurants, ultimately resulting in the closing of those establishments.

GVO (Good Vibes Only), located on Railroad Square, was a popular place for many people around Tallahassee. It offered a variety of brunches, Taco Tuesdays, and themed parties. In the early weeks of July, a “No Trespassing” sign appeared on the door of GVO, stating that the business was closed and any owners, agents, or employees would be treated as a trespasser.

When GVO opened its doors in September of 2017, it was a popular hangout for FAMU, FSU, and TCC students. Some assume that a fatal shooting outside GVO resulted in its permanent closure.

Jaleigha Williams, a fourth-year pharmacy major at FAMU, expressed her concerns about Tallahassee being a small city with limited food places.

“I feel like there is already a limited number of good restaurants to eat and have a little more freedom at, so it’s disappointing they closed,” Williams said. “But I understand it had something to do with the violence.”

Another popular hangout for students was PrimeTime. PrimeTime closed its doors shortly before GVO. Despite being classed as a restaurant, PrimeTime hosted countless parties. Parties that have occasionally resulted in gun violence, creating the appearance that this is the reason for the closure.

Because GVO and PrimeTime were well-known to college students, the two businesses closing so close together is sure to raise doubts about Tallahassee’s allure.

FAMU, in addition to FSU, is a major college in Tallahassee. FAMU was regularly depicted negatively in the media before and during the academic year. Following the outrage over the nude grad photo in front of the rattlesnake statue, several news sites covered the ineligibility of some football players and the relocation of FAMU students living in on-campus housing due to infestation concerns.

Because FAMU is a large HBCU, the animosity surrounding the campus does not bode well for prospective students. Overall, the college campuses contribute to the city’s attraction.

Some may say that FAMU’s culture has declined as well. There were fewer first-year students than in previous years during convocation, and overall student turnout was low. Since FAMU moved Set Friday to the Will Packer Amphitheater, some students were opposed to the notion because Set Friday has been a tradition at FAMU for many years.

Brianna Taylor, a fourth-year pre-vet animal science major, believes the reason for the culture change is because of COVID-19.

“In my opinion, FAMU’s culture has changed,” Taylor said. “I think COVID is the primary cause of this shift. The atmosphere in school has dramatically changed, and the fact that many students still choose to take their classes online makes the campus appear relatively vacant.”

The year 2022 has been tumultuous for Tallahassee and its citizens. The violence, more specifically gun violence, has caused a ricochet to directly affect nightlife and popular dining spots that many students and families relied on to make life after COVID easier. With great hopes, the city will figure out how to control the violence. This would improve the overall charm along with the opening of newer establishments.