Tampa Bay SDS Statement Against Tuition and Fee Increases

Image

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

 

 

Advertisements

March 1st National Day of Action for Education Rights

-Matt Hastings

On March 1st, 2012, students across the country participated in the National Day of Action for Education Rights. This day was designed for students to demonstrate for affordable education, end to student debt, and democratic representation on campus.

Students gather outside Cooper Hall with signs (Photo by Jared Hamil)

Tampa Bay SDS organized a campus-wide Walk Out and protest against the devastating attacks on education in the state of Florida. At noon SDS, alongside groups such as Occupy USF and the Black Student Union, faculty and workers at USF walked out of their clasess and gathered outside of Cooper Hall. Joined by over 150 members of the USF community, SDS members and faculty gave urgent speeches describing the actions needed to defend education. With the Florida legislature fighting to destroy public education, with especially high cuts to USF, the students’ passion for the right of education was ferociously present throughout the day.

Students march through the John and Grace Allen Building (Photo by Jared Hamil)

On the cusp of a series of speeches that energized a growing crowd, SDS led a march across campus with a final destination of the Marshall Student Center. The large contingent of USF student, faculty, and workers chanted slogans such as “Education is a right! Fight fight fight!” and “Chop from the top!”, through the administrative plaza where they finally sat-in the Marshall Student Center. From there a diverse group of USF undergraduate and master’s students gave speeches to the even larger crowd that had gathered around the sitters. Personal stories of debt and unemployment were shared by the students along with organizational strategies for present and future struggles.

Students sit-in the MSC and listen to speeches (Photo by Catherine Lim)

The day’s success can be measured by the large number of students who were inspired to share their struggle and join in the fight for education for all. This day of action was only the beginning of the growing student discontent. As cuts, hikes and corporatization of Universities take place across the country, students will only utilize their power in numbers at an even greater rate. As attacks on students grow more alarmingly, so will the consciousness of the same students.

They say cut back; We say fight back!