Tampa, FL - On Sept. 22, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) announced the beginning of their campaign against a 15% tuition hike at the University of South Florida (USF). The students gathered outside the Marshall Student Center to kick off their campaign. Over the summer and then again in the fall, USF administrators hiked up tuition, increasing it from 8% up to 15%. Students are upset. As SDS member Dustin Ponder says, “This story is all too familiar across the nation. We in USF's SDS will not stand by and let such an injustice go unchallenged. In the past few weeks, SDS and other local activist organizations have been reaching out to the students of USF and are building support for an upcoming protest against attacks on our education.”
Corey Uhl, a member of SDS and a history major says, "The rising cost of tuition and diminishing financial aid is driving some students into debt and others out of school. With such an alarming rate of unemployment, graduating students cannot find good jobs either. We in SDS are organizing students to fight back against state government cuts to education.” He goes on to say, “We in SDS are looking at the big picture. University administrators are trying to put the burden on students, the same way the U.S. government bailed out the Wall Street bankers with working people paying for it through taxes and cuts to social programs. Scholarships like Bright Futures, which once covered 100% of tuition for academically sound students are now covering only about 53% and will soon be disappearing altogether! Some of us are finding we need to decide whether to pay certain personal bills or pay our next academic semester. In addition, raising tuition further buries in debt students who take out student loans or are simply attempting to sustain themselves while studying."
Administrators at USF insist upon raising tuition while they continue with frivolous spending. Michael Marchand another USF senior notes, "One unnecessary expenditure is the $35 million used to renovate the arena. Renovations include the addition of sky-boxes for the rich. SDS is demanding to know why these investments are not being used on the education of students during hard economic times."
With the kick off of the new SDS education rights campaign, students are confronting the USF administration. Dani Leppos, a USF junior is calling on all students and their organizations who oppose the attacks on education to, “Join the Oct. 4 rally for education rights organized by SDS. The student rally is taking place outside Cooper Hall. Participants will be marching to the administration building and demanding a meeting with USF president, Judy Genshaft. Tampa Bay SDS welcomes all students who are interested in joining our facebook group or contact us at TampaBaySDS@gmail.com.