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. 

 

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.

M6: March to Defend Education at USF

Flyer for M6

Flyer for M6

On March 6, 2013, members of Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society joined by USF students and staff rallied against tuition hikes and budget cuts at USF. Both the state legislature and USF Board of Trustees have consistently voted in favor of budget cuts and tuition hikes. The rally was directed at the USF BOT and administration urging them to take a clear stand against budget cuts and to refrain from imposing any more hikes on students.

Around 30 SDS members, students, and staff rallied in the Marshall Student Center, unveiling a banner that declared “Education is a right, not a privilege” and showed that the average USF student will graduate with around $22,000 in debt. Students used a “human mic” to speak out on various issues that affect students from higher tuition hikes, increasing student debt, free speech and the sanctity of public education. A supporter from the AFSCME Local 3422 stated that the union agreed with the students in their demand that education is a right. Speakers lamented the protection of corporate interests in deference to student and worker interests at the university. After occupying the student center students began their march through campus towards the administration building. Students used bullhorns to chant, “No cuts, no fees, education should be free” and “Cut administration, not education”.

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As the march reached the Patel Center for Global Solutions, students were met by John Long and Dee Sisco who explained the administration’s policy towards budget cuts and tuition hikes: a necessary evil. Repeatedly questioned as to why students and workers are the first ones to be burned by cut backs, Long at one point derisively asked a student, “Are you a lawyer?” and “Do you study law?”, when he was asked if he thought it was fair that many of the people on the Board of Trustees held corporate and bank interests related to student loans. The students had come to present President Judy Genshaft with a student agenda, but other administrators and a public relations specialist were sent in her place. After engaging in a dialogue with administrators and presenting them with the agenda that contained a list of eight demands to protect student interests, the administrators then left, but students stayed and re-affirmed their request to meet with President Genshaft for ten minutes, or long enough for her to make a small statement to the students. Students then began a sit-in in the Patel Center, not leaving until they could meet with the President.Students then called the Office of the President and encouraged allies who were not present to do the same. First, students were told that the President and her secretary were in meetings for the rest of the day and there was no way to access her schedule. Other students were told that she was booked for “the entire month”. Having difficulty ascertaining the true nature of the President’s schedule, students decided to visit the Office themselves, but were blockaded by officials and police officers and told that they did not have permission to go any further, despite it being a public university. One student who attempted to enter an elevator was pushed away from doing so by a police officer.

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Students sit-in at Patel Center

Students were met with more officials and law enforcement, but remained firm in having the ability to even schedule a meeting with the President of their university. Eventually Student Government President Brian Goff was brought over to engage in a roundtable with students and help them in their quest to schedule a meeting. He explained his vote to increase tuition as a compromise between higher increases. After a series of questions and answers, students pressed for him to use his position to find a way to meet with the President, after a year of unsuccessful tries. Goff returned at 5 pm as the building was closing, to inform students that no one in the entire building had the ability to schedule meetings and that the President and her secretary had left an hour before, while students were still downstairs waiting. With a refusal to meet with students, the students remained committed to building the fight against tuition hikes and corporate influence and to plan further actions.

            Students from across the nation will be planning actions on March 14th on their campuses to defend education. (March 14th is during USF’s spring break)

http://www.newsds.org/2013/1/22/sds-national-call-action-march-14th-national-day-action-education-rights

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.

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!