New traditions can create tensions

Photo of the new Set Friday location at the Will Packer Amphitheater. Photo courtesy: Stephen Swan

The conversation on New School vs. Old School at FAMU is evolving among alumni, sparking reflections on the evolution of traditions on the renowned Tallahassee campus. Both current students and alums have voiced concerns about a cultural shift, with Justin Matthews, a December 2023 graduate, sharing his diminishing interest in Set Friday.

“Set Friday became increasingly overpopulated, and I would find myself just standing around, waiting for the next thing to happen,” Matthews said.

Matthews, who entered FAMU during the COVID era, says Set Friday has become overcrowded, leading to a sense of aimless waiting for the next event. Despite hearing glowing accounts of campus life from family, the allure has waned for Matthews.

Most people think that COVID impacted the social norms at FAMU. Many people have been affected by COVID, causing a shift in many social settings.

Nikiah Henderson, a May 2023 graduate, shared her thoughts. “I don’t know if COVID also plays into that, but it’s also on students,” Henderson said.

Henderson suggests that students play a role in fostering spirit and campus love, proposing utilizing campus areas, such as the Eternal Flame location, to rekindle a sense of spirit reminiscent of older times.

“I know back in the day, students would get blankets and sit on the grass, hang out, and just be each other’s company,” Henderson said.

Highlighting the significance of valuing new and old traditions, Henderson emphasizes the importance of maintaining traditions while embracing new ones.

“Traditions are what got us here thus far, but it doesn’t hurt always to add new ones,” Henderson said.

Acknowledging the cultural and entrepreneurial significance of Set Friday, Antrorris Williams, a 2013 graduate, voices concerns about performative elements, especially on social media.

“It is a bit performative for social media and overzealous with non-Greek strolling,” Williams said.

Williams encourages interactive activities and genuine engagement, emphasizing that enjoying the current culture is acceptable if it fosters a sense of community.

The dialogue underscores the tension between preserving cherished traditions and adapting to new cultural dynamics at FAMU. The sentiment is that traditions have brought the community thus far, but balancing old and new practices is crucial for the university’s continued vibrancy.