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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For a Student Power Agenda

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A recent article in the USF Oracle has given light to over $2.3 million dollars that has been unaccounted for since 2006. While the headline of the article focused on Student Government’s allocation of said funds into “USF Week”, the real story is the mismanagement and legacy-building by our student “representatives”. It is not only concerning that the over $2 million dollars was seemingly unaccounted for, but also the fact that this money will not be saved to help students pay for their increasingly high college tuition. Any USF student should be aware of the tuition hikes that the state legislature, with complicity from USF administration and Student Government, has railroaded through the past years. While student outrage successfully lessened the percentage of the past tuition hike, it should be clear that students are not being represented in the management of our university.

SDS lost one of its most passionate activists over this past summer. Each meeting and each event his inspiration and leadership can only be with us in spirit and this loss is truly felt by each of us that spent even 1 hour fighting injustice alongside him. After having accrued massive amounts of student debt, a pain increasingly felt by more and more students, he could no longer afford to complete his well-deserved college education. Students like him should not have to face these burdens while administrators and our President Genshaft receive hefty bonuses and salaries, which put her in the top 10 percent of university presidents.

One must question the actions by our “representatives” on many fronts. Former Student Body President Matt Diaz was instrumental in ramming this spending bill through SG. He is quoted in the article as saying, “I was told that this institution is so young, you can get a chance to create your own tradition,” he said. “When you come back here as alumni with your own children, you’re going to be able to say that you were here to start something great.” From here, one must deduce whether or not this spending frenzy by SG was not simply a ploy to promote their own legacies and pad their resumes. Another senator is quoted as saying that the money must be spent, because “you never know what’s going to happen to that money”. If this money has truly been sitting in an account since 2006, I’m hesitant to believe that the $2.3 million is going to vanish anytime soon. Was no thought put into giving this money to students in the form of scholarships or grants? Instead SG has chosen to impress students by throwing money at high profile musical acts.

Students must raise their voice against these and other blatant slaps in the face to those struggling to afford their right to education. We must organize our own representative bodies outside of those who claim to represent our interests, even when they are our peers. The broad mass of the student body should recognize that it is us who truly has the power and the investment in our universities. Before raising tuition, before the slashing of workers’ salaries and jobs, before enhancing one’s legacy, before cutting oppressed peoples and women’s studies- let’s take a look at their bonuses, salaries, and the interests of the Board of Trustees, composed of bankers, corporate air polluters, and others that represent the agenda of the same entities that have consistently been the cause of economic and environmental crises. While they have been pushing predatory student loans, drowning students in debt, they have seen ever increasing wealth.

We need to counteract the weakening of our public education. We need to fight the creeping privatization and corporate platitudes put upon our education. We must be vigilant in our pursuit of a democratic university, one that is truly accountable to its students and workers.

We NEED a STUDENT POWER agenda:

Education is a right!

No tuition hikes!

No cuts to education!

No cuts to oppressed and women’s studies!

Chop from the top!