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. 

 

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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!

Rally in Tally

– Matt Hastings

4:30 a.m. was a harsh time to make a drive to school, but through the haze of the early morning, we made our way onto the bus that would take us to “Rally in Tally”. A group of about 50 students mostly comprised of SDS and student government members traveled to Tallahassee with intentions of expressing discontent against the further weakening of Florida’s education system.  The lawmakers’ continuing trend of raising tuition and fees and slashing services was of particular grievance to many students.

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SDS members Tefa and Phil Siniscalco having lunch (photo by Catherine Lim)

An itinerary of the day’s scheduled events included the following: a 10:30 trip to the Higher Education Appropriations Committee Meeting, Lunch, the rally on the Capitol at 1:00 and then a two hour period of meetings with various legislators in their office. Unfortunately, shortly after arriving it was evident that much of what was said to happen was either cancelled or cut short, resulting in groups walking endlessly around Florida’s Capitol building. Although the emphasis of the event seemed to be centered on the need for better policies for students, much of what was said during the rally was vague statements about students’ potential. There was little mention by the speakers about policies that would directly benefit the over 300 students present. The most sparking event of the day was the demonstration on the capitol steps by SDS/Fight Back Florida members, who were equipped with signs and statements that captured the true nature of student frustration. The demonstration was met with a positive response by FSA Student Representative Mike Long and Representative Darryl Russon.

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Student activists at the Rally on the Old Capitol steps (photo by Catherine Lim)

What seemed to be the most imperative event of the day, the meetings with legislators associated with House Education committees, failed in many aspects. Most representatives and senators were called into sudden meetings during the portion scheduled to meet with them. During this portion we were also instructed by USF Student Government President Matt Diaz to hand out cards expressing gratitude to lawmakers’ (as of now undecided) support for higher education, along with a USF pin and a message from Matt Diaz on the cards. Many representatives would not accept Diaz’s cards as it is against House ethics rules to accept gifts from universities and their student governments. Despite the event being scheduled in a two hour block for meetings, it was cut in half and time was made for the provided dinner earlier at 3:30 p.m.

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SDS member Dani Leppo giving an interview (photo by Catherine Lim)

This day’s events should only serve to embolden students’ in their quest for a strong student movement that is organized and empowers the voice of the students from around the state. Students’ should not be placated by the attempts of those in charge to dismiss the will of students. Attempts to nurture a bond between administrators of schools and government and students is always welcomed, but until actual results are forthcoming, the student voice will only grow louder.

More Rally in Tally photos: USF SG Facebook

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