Tampa Bay SDS Statement Against Tuition and Fee Increases


As the University of South Florida Board of Trustees seeks to raise fees for out-of-state students[1] and is pushing for tuition increases for all students against the veto of Governor Rick Scott, Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society wishes to reiterate its commitment to fighting any and all tuition and fee increases. We believe these measures place an unfair burden on students attempting to receive a public education. With students facing an ever increasing student loan debt, tuition and fee increases trap students in a cycle of debt and further erode affordable public education. Students for a Democratic Society believe that education is a fundamental right that should be free of cost and not a privilege for those who can afford it. These measures only deepen the divide between those who can afford higher education and those who cannot. Students across the country must resist these attacks against them at all costs and demand a say in the decisions that affect their future.

Here at USF, the Board of Trustees has consistently raised tuition even when the legislature has not called for it and in some cases against the demands of the Board of Governors.[2] Most often these decisions are decided in closed doors during the Summer session, when most students are not around to raise opposition. In Tampa Bay SDS’ many conversations with administrators and even President Judy Genshaft herself, we were repeatedly told the lie that if the legislature replaces the $300 million taken away in last year’s budget and if the legislature does not vote for a tuition increase (the legislature voted for a 3% increase but this was vetoed by Governor Scott), that they would not raise tuition. Despite this recent reports[3] suggest that USF Provost Ralph Wilcox has been pushing for tuition increases of 2.5%-5% despite Scott’s veto.

This news only increases Tampa Bay SDS’ vigilance in opposing attacks on students and in organizing the student body against tuition increases. SDS’ month long sit-in campaign[4] was designed to put pressure on USF administration who would not take a firm stand against tuition increases. We now see that their hesitation in meeting with SDS one on one and in committing to a tuition freeze was for a reason: they have been planning all along to push tuition increases with or without student input. In conversations with administrators and even those that are supposed to represent students in Student Government, we were told that tuition increases are the fault of the state legislature and that our fight is in Tallahassee. However, we now find that more than ever our organizing must be done on our own campus to prevent attacks from those that are supposed to be representing us directly. SDS vows to use the summer to organize and prepare to lead the fight against tuition increases and for education rights at the University of South Florida and to continue to build a fighting student movement! We stand in solidarity with those across the country organizing for education rights and look at the strikes and occupations happening at Indiana University and Cooper Union as inspiration for our organizing.

Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society seeks:

  • an end to all tuition and fee increases
  • a University-wide referendum to pass the student body before allowing the BOT to impose tuition hikes in addition to the hikes imposed by the state
  • to Challenge the corporatization of our campus by restructuring the BOT to include students,community members, and others affected by the decisions the BOT makes
  • to cultivate a transparent and democratic environment for students



April 17th Anti-War Teach-In


Activists speak out against US wars and occupations

On April 17th, Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), joined by Food Not Bombs, Bradley Manning Support Network, Uhuru Solidarity Movement, Tampa Dream Defenders, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization, held an anti-war teach-in on the University of South Florida (USF) campus. At Cooper Hall the various groups took turns calling for an end to all US wars and occupations and describing the ways in which wars affect different parts of society: immigrants, the environment, women, students, veterans, whistle blowers, and third world nations. 

This event was a part of the National SDS call to protest all US wars and occupations and also in solidarity with many national organizations call for the month of April to be a month of action against drone warfare. 

Billy Livsey of the Bradley Manning Support Network denounced the treatment of Bradley Manning, a military whistle blower who exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning’s case is fraught with secrecy and fraudulent claims. After being in solitary confinement for 3 years, a practice seen as torture by the UN and others, Manning’s trial is due to be held without any transparency to the public. 

Tefa Galvis of Tampa Dream Defenders talked about war’s affect on immigrants. War leads to mass migration and displacement, forcing millions to flee their homeland. War is also used to demonize immigrants from countries that the United States is at war with, such as people from the Middle East. Galvis also discussed how the US’ military presence in countries like Colombia drain resources from the population and prop up military regimes. 

Matt Hastings from Tampa Bay SDS discussed how the resources used on military spending account for over 50% of the federal budget. At a time when tuition has increased 900% since 1978, the military budget continuously grows. The connection between war and students was clear: the money spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone could have paid for 22 million students to attend college for free. While politicians force budget cuts and tuition hikes, squeezing teachers, students, and staff, money for military occupation and deadly drone strikes is consistently there. Hastings also called out the military’s use of Universities for research that contributes to newer, deadlier weapons and diverts research money from projects that could be used to build society, rather than destroying it.

Jesse Nevel of Uhuru Solidarity Movement paralleled US military actions that affect the lives of millions of Africans and the war on black and brown people inside the United States. He described how the police forces essentially act as a paramilitary force used to terrorize black and brown communities across the US, include Tampa and St. Petersburg, where in recent and past years police have brutally murdered unarmed African-Americans. He also pointed out how ever 36 hours, a black person is murdered by the police.

Danielle Leppo of SDS and the Coalition to End Rape Culture spoke on war’s affect on women. Rape is historically used as a weapon of war against the female populations of countries. Sexual assault against women in the military, by male solidiers is increasing at a horrific rate, with most perpetrators receiving no penalty. 

Walt Byars of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization denounced the war maneuvers against North Korea and the ongoing US military presence on the Korean Peninsula. Byars spoke of how the United States has surrounded North Korea since the Korean War, and the imperialist border lines drawn by the US and other nations. He also called for self-determination for the Korean people.

The forces drawn together by this day of action show that the anti-war movement is gaining strength as activists see the emptiness of Barack Obama’s rhetoric for change and see his actions (see: drone strikes that inflict massive civilian causalities in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemeni, Afghanistan, waging war in Libya, and now threatening war in Korea and Syria) for what they are: a part of the same imperialist system that has dominated the US landscape. People of conscience, especially students who have historically been at the forefront of the movement against US wars, must step up their protests and resistance no matter who the ruling class has selected to lead the country, Democrat or Republican. 


Money for jobs and education, not war and occupation!


Students talk with President Genshaft and Provost Wilcox

Video of students meeting with President Genshaft: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=kn0vP7tFsuY#!

On April 11th, following the USF Student Government Inauguration, students approached USF President Judy Genshaft and Provost Ralph Wilcox to ask why the President has refused to meet with students regarding their demands that no more tuition hikes be implemented. President Genshaft and administrators have continuously ignored students demand that tuition be frozen at its current rate and that cuts are made to the most highly paid USF administrators, rather than on students and workers. President Genshaft’s salary has increased 125% since she was instituted as President of USF in 2000. In the same period tuition has increased rapidly, while workers salaries have been frozen and jobs have been cut. 

The President and Provost did not make a statement on whether they opposed tuition hikes, only saying that students should contact their student “representatives” in Student Government. Students have increasingly grew frustrated with Student Government and other so-called representatives, as they have been at the forefront of approving tuition hikes, with little input from the student body. 

The President and Provost then invited SDS to the Student Government session on April 16th which is open to public comment, where the President will be present. SDS plans to show up in full strength to make sure students are represented in their concerns over tuition, budget cuts, worker layoffs, rape culture, and a lack of democratic process on campus. 

Please join us on Tuesday, April 16th at 5:30 in the MSC chambers (4200) to present concerns to SG representatives and the President herself.