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Florida State University students storm president's office to demand tuition equity

By staff |
March 3, 2014
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FSU students march towards the president's office to demand tuition equity.
FSU students march towards the president's office to demand tuition equity. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tallahassee, FL- On Feb. 28, 35 courageous students gathered at the Florida State University (FSU) Integration Statues. At the very statue that symbolized the supposed diversity that Florida State claims, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and a broad array of organizations - including Advocates for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Dream Defenders and the Center for Participant Education - demanded tuition equity. This policy that would ensure undocumented students could afford the human right of obtaining an education and be granted in-state tuition like the rest of the Florida population.

The rally marked the end of Education for All Week, a series of events in support of tuition equity, which included teach-ins and classes to educate the student body on this important issue. In addition, the students petitioned to put a tuition equity referendum on the Student Government Association ballot, which passed with 72.2% of student voters.

At the start of the rally, student leaders gave several impassioned speeches. Speakers included SDS co-presidents Brianna Roman-Calderon and Andrew Arachikavitz, Advocates for Immigrant and Refugee Rights president Cassie Barragàn, Center for Participant Education public relations officer Andreina Granado and the Dream Defenders local strategist Michael Sampson.

The students marched from the Integration Statue to the university president's office to bring their demands to the administration. The students sent a representative ahead to see if the president was available for a meeting, but the administration attempted to deceive students by claiming the president was not inside. The students saw through the administration’s lies and marched into the president's office, chanting to demand tuition equity. “Education is a right! Fight, fight, fight, fight!”

Shivaani Ehsaan, Campaign Coordinator of FSU SDS, said “The energized students stormed the ivory tower of President Barron's office and demanded that he meet the people's grievances of the discriminatory policy that is FSU's - and the greater state of Florida’s - tuition rates.”

The students all crowded into the office and demanded that the president show himself. Barron finally succumbed to the students and agreed to meet their demands. He vowed to support tuition equity and allow for increased involvement for students in the process. He agreed to involve five students in the Student Affairs Committee.

Mili Chapado, Policy Chair of Advocates for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said "Student groups at other colleges and universities are gaining momentum. We should strive to work with them to push for tuition equity state-wide."

The campaign is in full swing and is gaining increased traction. Students for a Democratic Society plans on holding administration’s feet to the fire to ensure that they fulfill their promises with continued pressure through future student actions. In addition, the students will pressure those in power in the Florida legislature, through weekly call-ins as well as a statewide SDS action on March 20 at the Capitol.

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