Florida A&M freshmen move in, on-campus housing is maxed out

Florida A&M freshmen move in, on-campus housing is maxed out

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The ample breezeway between the east and west wings of FAMU Village was transformed Thursday into a spirited scene, with parents moving their sons and daughters from one family to a new one during move-in day on campus.

Fathers toted large-screen televisions and luggage, mothers carried personal items. “Team Green” student volunteers from Florida A&M University Housing offered assistance.

Incoming freshman Courtney Felder, center, and her mother, Desiree Felder, left, greet FAMU President Larry Robinson during move-in day Thursday at Florida A&M University.

(Photo: Byron Dobson/Democrat)

“It’s really great to see all the students arriving with their parents and families, and the sentimental part, when the parents, realize, OK, I have to head back home,” FAMU President Larry Robinson said, standing away from the bustling traffic.

Robinson dubbed the influx of the estimated 1,200 to 1,500 freshman class, “FAMU 22,” and said the university will do “everything we can” to expedite their academic and personal growth.

“But we want them to spend as little time possible with us,” he said in a light moment, subtly referring to seeing them graduate in four years.

Courtney Felder, 18, of Fort Lauderdale, and her mother, Desiree, were among those stopping to meet Robinson.

“It’s exciting, it’s nerve-wracking,” said Courtney, who plans to study biology/pre-med. “I’m having a great time at Florida A&M University. I’m trying to graduate in four years, that’s my goal.”

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Macee Boyd, 18, was surrounded by her mother, grandmother and two aunts, each sporting “Team Macee” T-shirts, as they prepared to unload belongings.

The pre-med major from Venice is entering as a first-time-in-college freshman but earned her associate’s degree and her high-school diploma as a dual-enrollment student.

FAMU, she said, was her No. 1 choice.

“Being an HBCU, being a science school, the location in Tallahassee, I’m excited,” she said. "I’m happy to be at FAMU.”

Macee Boyd, 18, and her family are all smiles as she begins her first year at Florida A&M University.

(Photo: Andrew Salinero/Democrat, )

The attraction of attending an HBCU was on the minds of several freshmen. National studies show some predominantly black colleges and universities are experiencing an uptick in enrollment.

Factors include the current political environment, the rise in social consciousness and the institutions serving as a target for graduate schools or corporation seeking minority talent.

Ava Allen, 18, of Boynton Beach, plans to major in animal science. A trip to FAMU’s farm in Quincy helped seal the deal.

“I came here during the summer, so I’m already familiar with the campus,” she said. “I’m excited to be at an HBCU.”

Her father, a middle school principal in West Palm Beach, earned his degree in political science from FAMU but said it was his daughter’s choice.

“She has been coming here since she was almost a baby,” said Allen, who often brought prospective students to FAMU on college tours. “When I was here, it was like a family.”

Maya Porter, a second-year public relations major and resident assistant, works with freshmen Thursday at Florida A&M University.

(Photo: Byron Dobson/Democrat)

If evidence was needed to support building a new residence hall, FAMU provided it Thursday as all 2,543 beds on campus were taken. Projected enrollment this fall is 10,000, Vice President for Student Affairs William Hudson Jr. said, an increase from 9,909 last fall.

First-time in college freshmen numbers are projected at 1,300, compared to 1,281 last year, Hudson said.

“The availability of (on-campus) housing is based on first-come, first served,” Hudson said. “Housing was available since February.”

The guarantee date was June 1, for students to make their $200 deposits on a room.

Jennifer Wilder, director of housing, said the university alerted freshmen on Aug.14 that no more beds were available.

By Thursday, 16 students were on a waiting list. They were advised they would be placed if rooms opened up before classes start Monday.

FAMU was hosting a housing fair Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the H. Manning Efferson Student Union Multi-Purpose Room, 1628 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

The filled beds included those available at Palmetto North on the southern tip of campus.

Palmetto North was reopened last fall to accommodate about 200 students who had no rooms on the main campus. During last year’s move-in, several units were uninhabitable because of mold and mildew and the was forced to briefly house affected students in local hotels.

In June, the university lost the use of a building unit at Palmetto North due to a vehicle crash. The unit was unoccupied, but could have provided enough beds to handle this year’s overflow, Hudson said.

“We are going to demolish it,” he said of the building.

Contact senior writer Byron Dobson at bdobson@tallahassee.com or on Twitter @byrondobson.

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