Set Friday is FAMU

Photo courtesy: Nyah Hardmon

Florida A&M University students returned to campus for the first full week of classes after Hurricane Idalia swept across Florida, causing several delays. But what better way is there to kick off that true first weekend other than attending the very first Set Friday of the school year?

Imagine this: it’s 12:05 on a Friday. The sun is gleaming brightly over the Highest of Seven Hills. You just got out of class, so you skate across campus from SBI to meet your friends who are already out by the university commons having the time of their lives. It doesn’t matter which route you take, because there is someone on every single corner of the campus all here to experience our beloved Set Friday. There are the best vendors out and food trucks in town and music, now played by none other than DJ Loosekid.

This is a universal experience that almost every Rattler has had at one point or another, and if you haven’t already, you are missing out! In more recent years, as the location of Set Friday has been moved from the set to the Will Packer Amphitheater. Between students, faculty and alumni there have been several conversations about the cultural changes that have taken place on campus since COVID-19 and it starts with Set Friday.

D’Andre Johnson, a 2016 graduate, former Striker and Marching 100 member, reminisced about the times he had on the set back in the day. Johnson said that the only thing that you can compare it to is a big family reunion where everybody knows each other. During his freshman year in 2012, he recalled engaging in friendly competition with some of the other dance organizations. Johnson believes that the close knit space on the set helped students get to know their peers even more.

“When you come in as a freshman, you usually have some older folks kind of take you under your wing and show you the ropes,” Johnson said. “They’ll show you how to be lit and have a good time. That older FAMU energy was always there.”

Senior business administration student Braxton McMillan is one of the few students who were able to experience Set Friday before its relocation. McMillan says that his first Set Friday experience is what introduced him to FAMU culture. Like Johnson, McMillan remembers the welcoming nature of Set Friday and says there is nothing like it. When explaining to his friends at other universities that every Friday from 12-3 there’s this big block party on campus that everybody goes to, they are always left in awe.

“I feel like Set Friday is literally the nucleus of FAMU culture,” McMillan said. “It doesn’t get any better than that, when we’re talking about who is FAMU and what FAMU’s culture is.”

Trinitee Hassan is one of many fourth-year students who are the first class to have not experienced Set Friday at its original location. While there were no Set Fridays during her freshman year, her first Set Friday experience at the amphitheater was similar to those described previously. Of course, it was still very hot thanks to the Florida heat, but the FAMU-ly vibe still remained. Students continue to be friendly and engage with each other and learn from their older peers about the campus culture.

“To be honest, my expectations are the same,” Hassan said. “It doesn’t matter where the party is at. FAMU students are going to turn up wherever we are.”

This past Friday, Takayla Davis had her very first Set Friday experience after transferring from Tallahassee Community College. While she is looking forward to graduation in the spring, Davis said she came to FAMU because she decided she really wanted that HBCU experience and to learn more about Black culture. Thankfully, she came to the right place and her first Set Friday was a success.

“I actually met new people that were very friendly and very helpful,” Davis said. “The music was lit. The food was good. There were vendors letting us know about their businesses and this is a great opportunity for them to expand. I really enjoyed myself.”

While we may never experience an old school Set Friday ever again, it’s pretty evident that FAMU culture still remains strong and continues to thrive. Change is what life is all about. So now, when you think of the new Set Friday, think of it as the younger generation of Rattlers taking traditions and making them their own. FAMU culture isn’t gone, just a little different and still plenty worth bragging about.