SDS continues sit-in campaign

“Students pay your salary!”

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For the second Friday in a row, and third time within a month, students have sat in at the Patel Center for Global Solutions. SDS and allies are calling on President of USF, Judy Genshaft, to make a commitment to meet with students, who are facing fee, housing, and tuition increases. President Genshaft has made no public statements on the ever increasing burden being placed on students, most vehemently in the form of tuition hikes with her own approval. Students have for a month been attempting to cut through the bureaucratic red tape that exists within the University system, simply to meet with their President on issues of increasing urgency.

The crass refusal to meet with or address students is an insult to all who are facing on average $20,000 in debt; while at the same time the President and other administrators are stuffing their coffers with benefits and bonuses, reminiscent of the Wall Street bankers who have robbed the people.  Students are tired of being shuffled around from one talking head to another: they demand serious action to protect the broad majority of the university system (Students and Workers). SDS continues to raise the call: Chop from the top! 

Students are increasingly aware of lack of true representation on campus. While being told to take it up with our Student Government, because they represent the interests of all students, these same representatives continuously vote for more tuition hikes. Talk to any student struggling with debt, working multiple jobs to afford an education: Does it sound like they are being represented? NO!

Students must take power into their own hands and struggle for their interests against the dominance of corporate-sponsored education and legislatures. A movement of students must be   built, outside of the institutions that have failed us time and time again. No amount of false promises or bread crumbs will be accepted anymore.  

Students must collectively act and dare to break through the barrier that exists between the majority and the same minority that controls a large concentration of power and wealth. We are one of many struggles united in a vision to radically alter how this society is organized and to fashion it into a truly democratic society. 

Students have demanded the following:

  • No more tuition hikes imposed by the Board of Trustees (BOT).
  • Put students and workers first: before raising tuition and implementing mass layoffs, chop from the top and cut administrative salaries and reduce bureaucracy.
  • Tuition payments represent a deep contribution on the part of students. The decision to pay for school will affect us for the rest of our lives. We deserve a proportionate degree of respect. Cultivate a radically democratic relationship between the students and the USF administration. Require 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.
  • Become an advocate for student interests at the state level, constantly seeking out ways to oppose budget cuts.
  • Stop cutting funds to the Africana and Women’s Studies department.
  • Stand against differential tuition in the form of the “Blue Ribbon Task Force” and their recommendations for higher non-STEM tuition.
  • Challenge the corporatization of our campus by restructuring the BOT to include students,community members, and others affected by the decisions the BOT makes.
  • Conduct an independent audit of the members of the BOT in order to investigate potential conflicts with the interests of students. For example, bankers who profit off of student loans should not decide to raise student tuition.
  • Take a clear stand against the rape culture that persists on campus: introduce a mandatory workshop on the issues of rape and rape culture to all incoming students during orientation and create a “bystander intervention” policy campus-wide.

Join SDS and allies every Friday at 12pm in the Patel Center and show the administration that the students demand to be heard and demand an end to tuition and fee increases.

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Dare to struggle, dare to win.

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“No RNC in Tampa Bay!”

-Sol Márquez

We had an idea Tampa Bay was cool. But when we heard the Republican National Convention was going to be held right in our back yard, we knew the January 23rd Republican Debate would be history in the making. Santorum, Gingrich, Ron Paul and of course Mitt Romney promised they’d come visit so we had to welcome them as best we could. And how could we not show gratitude at being denied access to our very own building?

Corey

SDS Member Corey Uhl (photo by Christopher Hamil)

“I am a USF student. The Republican Debate is on my campus. But I can’t attend? WTF?” read one SDS sign. “Get your laws out of my uterus!” read another.

Assembling, taking names, making signs, holding interviews Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society promptly met. Our announced time of assembling was 6:30pm outside of the Allen & Grace Building on USF’s campus. Occupy Tampa, Occupy USF, SDS members from Tampa & Gainesville, SLAP and Fight Back Florida members from St. Petersburg & Orlando in addition to various union members were pissed and ready to show the Republicans their claws via bullhorns.

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UF President Jose Soto of the Graduate Assistants United (photo by Christopher Hamil)

“I met a young couple who didn’t know much about how to continue being involved”, says Tampa Bay SDS activist, organizer Denise Wilkinson, “But they joined in with us to protest anyway! By the end of our march, I was able to sign them up with the Coalition to March on the RNC.”

Jared

Tampa Fight Back Florida organizer Jared Hamil (photo by Christopher Hamil)

“What about gay rights and rights for the arts!” shouted Kat Reynolds and Sean McDonald, (current USF students) during a speech. We support those rights too! And Gainesville SDS member Cassia Laham made sure to include, “Our lesbian, gay and or transgender brothers and sisters” into her speech about demanding overall a fair and just representation by anyone running for office.

Truth is: there was a lot going on. Our particular action included over 300 students–all with the same disdain towards the conservative agenda. But there were so many more people present that fateful USF day. Including our newly relocated Terry Jones and his supporters/followers. These particular protesters carried racist signs against our current president Obama and against “illegal immigrants”.

January 23rd was only a little taste of what will be coming to Tampa on August 27th.
And we can’t wait.

Tyler

St. Pete Fight Back Florida organizer Tyler Crawford (photo by Christopher Hamil)

As We Write, Listen ✌p!

It’s been extremely busy for us student, activist, organizers. From organizing for the Republican Debate that occurred on January 23, 2011 to attending and studying the Rally in Tally on January 26, 2012! We are currently, fervently writing up summations of the various events.

Yes, we’d been neglecting our wonderful blog; so here we are! To remind you Tampa Bay SDS still holds you dear in our hearts. Listen to these inspiring tracks while you await our [almost] complete blog entries.

Dead Prez – “Politrikkks”

Lila Downs – “Minimum Wage

Goodbye 2011!

-Sol Márquez

Our summation for the 2011 year at University of South Florida is as follows:

USF is loaded with strong, independent-thinkers who are ready to do all they can to put their own future in their own hands! Tampa Bay SDS could not have been possible if it hadn’t been for all the help and dedication put forth by all who helped.

Tampa Bay SDS (along with various other SDS chapters across the country) in its very first semester of existence had many victories!

*Here are some of them:
1. 50+ student attendance at our first-ever rally against the 15% Tuition Increases.

photo by Peeraya Sawangkum

2. LIVE time with leading news medias who saw the potential in our efforts.

photo by Peeraya Sawangkum

3. Our Proposed 81% Referendum Victory!
*USF students were able to voice against the 15% Tuition Increases passed by administration over the summer without our consent.

During our 2nd Rally

4. We supported the Occupy Wallstreet movement on our campus–Occupy USF!
*Occupy USF received the same curt feedback Occupy Wallstreet received from International News Medias, yet their efforts were unhindered. Their rallies and teach-ins reflected the truth of what students, faculty and people in our country have to endure. Our support was fateful. We enjoyed joining forces with Occupy USF and wish them the best of luck!

photo by Occupy USF

The year 2012 will mark another year for our very own Tampa Bay SDS to thrive and complete new goals we will be setting for ourselves!
¡Ya basta! with the injustices to students, faculty and to the people in our country!
JOIN US!

No Amount of Political Freedom Will Satisfy the Hungry Masses.

Photograph by Tefa

Occupy Wallstreet gave way to solidarity occupations in numerous cities around the nation; and our very own Tampa Bay was not excluded. Lots of us Tampa Bay SDS’ers have demonstrated our solidarity and have done everything we can to help Occupy Tampa’s struggle. While the hype for the event reminded us it would be a “peaceful occupation”, we could not help but wonder why police had released a report stating they had barricaded the public park. Would there be arrests? Would there even be an event?

We arrived that Saturday morning with banners, bullhorns and clipboards–ready to take names and add to the overall energy of Occupy Tampa. The event was peaceful and refreshing–as our very own Tampa Bay SDS Chapter is new to activism. We learned why everyone was there; where their politics were; and how Occupy Wallstreet had hit home for them all…us all. We are all ready for change, hungry for change.

Occupiers gathered to air-out grievances against Corporate America.

And with that, it is our utmost pleasure to publicly announce we have had our first, actual victory! Our proposed referendum passed with a favored 81% from USF Voters! A grand win–one we take to heart and have learned so much from. Thank you to all who voted! Also to all who have stopped in the middle of going to class, lunch or studying to listen to us along our journey. Your struggle is our struggle!

The 81% Victory reported on USF's The Oracle

Our First-Ever Rally

Tampa Bay SDS marched on to the provost building--Patel and demanded a meeting with USF President Judy Genshaft.

University of South Florida’s Administration thought they could sneak the 15% tuition increases over the summer without students noticing. Oh we noticed.

Armed with over 1,200 Petition Signatures (1200 is the magic number needed to add a question to a referendum at USF), 50 USF Students, bullhorns and an anger bigger than that of the mascots, we stormed straight to the Provost and demanded a meeting. Did we mention all of this was documented by various news medias? Fox 13 News, 88.5 WMNF News, The Oracle and the local ABC News were there as witnesses. Assembling in front of Cooper at approximately 11am, a group of four USF Police approached our picnic table. Only one of them was dressed in uniform, the other three showed us their badges. “Where are you planning on marching?” “You know if you use your bullhorns, the rally is over?” “Any complaint against your noise will result in an arrest and a charge.” Our peaceful protest did not even require anyone to be arrested, nor did it end in any violence.

Chants such as, “Judy got paid off, we got ripped off! Paid off! Ripped Off!” and “The Students United, Will Never Be Defeated” could be heard. Dani Leppo, a member of SDS says, “After leaving class, I didn’t know where the group had gone. But I listened carefully and knew exactly where to go.” Truth is we were loud. We were firm. And we weren’t about to take admin’s bullshit. We marched on, bullhorns in hand straight to Patel–where the Provost works. Words can’t even describe how good it felt to see Ralph Wilcox in front of us–anxious, sweating.

Provost VP Ralph Wilcox Faced SDS October 3, 2011

And with that, we marked the beginning of SDS at the University of South Florida. Tampa Bay SDS is here to stay. We are here to fight against the injustices admininstration wants to impose. Join us, our fight is your fight!