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Students demand Florida legislators say no to more tuition hikes

By Skye Schmelzer |
January 18, 2013
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FL students protest tuition hikes.
FL students protest tuition hikes. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Gainesville, FL – At 12:00 p.m. on a cool and rainy day, the voices of 20 students rang through the halls of Emerson Alumni Hall at the University of Florida, “Education is a right! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!” The students rallied at the meeting location for the Board of Governors. The students quickly discovered the Board of Governors had cut the meeting short and fled when they heard students were coming. The Board was set to discuss education cut backs affecting students in the state of Florida, but ran away before any student voices could be heard.

“The higher public education system of Florida is under attack by Florida Governor Rick Scott and his Blue Ribbon Task Force. We are here to demand that the Board of Governors resist the proposals brought to them by Rick Scott's crony task force. We demand our voices be heard,” proclaimed Gainesville Area Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organizer Michela Martinazzi.

One of the top tier public universities in the nation, and hosting a student population of over 50,000, UF is facing big cuts. The Blue Ribbon Task Force recently proposed education cuts, very similar to Texas' education “reform”. The Board of Governors is pushing an agenda to further corporatize and privatize public universities. A big item up for elimination is the Florida Bright Futures - a merit scholarship that many students at the University of Florida as well as across the state depend on. Also under consideration is the Florida Prepaid savings program. A third proposal is the implementation of differential tuition—meaning big and unequal increases in tuition for non-STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) majors across the board.

“These legislators are placing the burden of the economic crisis on the backs of students. How is that fair? I depend on both Bright Futures and Florida Prepaid to earn my degree. I can't take out another loan!” stated Andrew Arachikavitz with Tallahassee SDS.

The activists held a round of speeches. Afterwards they marched outside and taped a banner to the entrance of Emerson Hall. “Board of Governors, shame on you, you were once students too!” they sang together.