Student, FAMU bump heads over podcast promotion

Aja Waseem photo courtesy: Waseem

Aja Waseem, a third-year broadcast journalism student at Florida A&M University, has her podcast, “Wassup Waseem.” Earlier this month, Waseem had an eye-opening encounter with the Florida A&M administration regarding promoting her show on campus.

She said “Wassup Waseem” was created to discuss growth and essential topics among the Gen-Z population.

“My podcast is centered around growth in our generation, but I kinda use it as an umbrella term to discuss multiple different things. Not only just growth within yourself, your friendships, your relationships, growth within the Black community, growth within a college student,” Waseem said.

After entering the Top Café dining hall earlier this month, Waseem began to hand out flyers with information on her podcast. That’s when she was told she was breaking the rules.

“I was handing out flyers, and an administrator told me I could not do that because it goes against the solicitation laws, so I immediately complied,” Waseem said. “I started going around and talking to people, introducing myself, asking them questions, and that’s when the same administrator told me I could not do that as well. Which is when we started bumping heads.”

Waseem says this is when the director of Auxiliary Services was called. She questioned the issue of what rules she was breaking and why she could not talk to students.

Waseem says the administrator had no answer.

“Where does it say I can’t communicate and network with other students?” Waseem said.

At his point, campus police were called to the dining hall, and Waseem was directed to talk to Carey Brown Sr. from the Office of Communications.

“The first thing that came out of his mouth was that I don’t need to talk to him; I need to talk to the public resource officer,” Waseem said. “I kept asking how I was breaking any rules if I was just talking to students, and he could not tell me.”

Waseem said the resource officer did not make her leave the dining hall because she was not breaking any laws. She adds that she had support from Student Affairs and the Office of Communications after the ordeal.

When contacted, FAMU spokesman Andrew Skerritt did not have much to say about the incident, stating that the university would not comment on the situation.

Waseem said it seems there is a communication gap, in large part because of the way the school perceives students.

“I feel like there’s a disconnect between admin and students here. I feel as though they don’t know how to communicate so that we can resolve things properly; I feel like it’s a blame situation,” Waseem said. “I don’t think FAMU understands the body of students that they have. We’re extremely intelligent; we’re the No. 1 public HBCU for a reason.”

Waseem said this incident will not stop her. A student resolution has been authored in light of the situation. If passed, the Student Government Association will issue a public statement. Senate Pro-Tempore and co-author of the bill, Kobe Buggs, says the goal is to bring awareness and advocate for student entrepreneurs.

“I hope they learn that the student’s voices need to be heard …let’s start allowing students to have their free speech, their free will, and openly and positively promote their businesses on campus,” Buggs said.

Waseem says that the support from student leaders and the student body has shown her the true meaning of “Famuly,” adding that she wants to create a host a seminar educating students on LLCs and brand awareness. Waseem notes that she has an upcoming meeting with the Office of Communications to review solicitation laws and find a way to provide easier access for student entrepreneurs to obtain their solicitation permits.