Tampa Bay SDS Statement Against Tuition and Fee Increases

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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

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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. 

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Money for jobs and education, not war and occupation!

http://www.facebook.com/groups/tampabaysds

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!

 

A new year, a continued struggle

Students in Chile 2012 (photo by http://nimg.sulekha.com)


In moments of great peril it is easy to muster a powerful response to moral stimuli; but for them to retain their effect requires the development of a consciousness in which there is a new priority of values.
 Society as a whole must be converted into a gigantic school.

 Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society is entering its second year and already looks to be a vibrant and powerful one. Students from Canada to Chile are rising up in greater numbers and with bolder demands. The contradictions between the 1% and the 99% are becoming ever clearer to the disillusioned youth. As more and more students graduate and see little in return for the mountain of student debt, students are beginning to realize they have more to gain by fighting back with little to lose.

Matt of Tampa Bay SDS on September 11, 2012 – Marshall Center

 We have no allusions to the easiness of this task. Yet we realize that our movement is maintained through struggle. As the leaders of our schools and government continue to sell us out, more and more join the ranks to fight for a new society. As the attacks on students, workers, and women grow in conjunction with national oppression, there is an ever growing sentiment of dissent spreading. The roots of an American Awakening are beginning to be sown and Students for a Democratic Society are watering the soil.

Our sights are set. Our goals are clear.

People of the world, be courageous, and dare to fight, defy difficulties and advance wave upon wave. Then the whole world will belong to the people.

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!

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

We Are Freedom Debators.

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You’ve got a date with us at 6pm. Monday, October the 24th!

Kicking the week off with a little debate against the 15% Tuition Hikes is Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society! Our very own Jonathan Daniels has a radio show called Book of Juggulations. Guess who he has invited to host a live debate against the hikes at USF? US! You’re invited to listen in; and give us all your feedback.

If you are not familiar with the hikes, stay tuned. We’ll be schooling all the skeptics who feel the hikes are a must for the “quality of the product” (or as we refer to it–education).

Listen here:
http://bullsradio.org/bullsradio.m3u

Call-in during the show at: (813) 974-9285
Become a supporter of the Coalition Against Tuition Hikes here.
Member of Tampa Bay SDS here.