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Florida State students demand tuition equity for undocumented

By staff |
February 21, 2014
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Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard speaking in support of student press confe
Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard speaking in support of student press conference for Tuition Equity at Florida State University’s Integration Statue. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tallahassee, FL - On Feb. 20, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) at Florida State University (FSU) held a press conference demanding “Tuition equity for undocumented students” on the school’s campus. Joining SDS was the leadership the Hispanic and Latino Student Union, Advocates for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Center for Participant Education, and the Dream Defenders. Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard spoke about SB 300, a bill he drafted to grant in-state tuition to undocumented students in the state of Florida.

The large group decided to hold their press conference in front of what is known on campus as the Integration Statue. It is a monument dedicated to a culture of inclusion and the promise of diversity at Florida State University, a promise administrators and lawmakers need to be reminded about.

Brianna Calderon-Roman of SDS explained, “We want a Florida which embraces different heritages and cultures and ideas, not one which creates roadblocks and rejects these things; things that we consider cornerstones of our state.”

Currently in the state of Florida, if a student or a student’s parents are undocumented, regardless of how many years they attended school in Florida, they are forced to pay the higher rates of out-of-state tuition. They currently pay between three and four times as much per semester as other state residents. This forces many bright students to go out of state or drop out until they can afford it.

Since SDS adopted their national Education-for-All campaign, the state of Florida is alive with organizing focused on securing equitable tuition for undocumented students. SDS chapters at both the University of Florida in Gainesville and the University of South Florida in Tampa are pressing forward with campaigns begun last August. Students at those colleges held meetings with their Board of Trustees demanding that their schools grant undocumented students in-state tuition.

Now, FSU has picked up the gauntlet in the fight for tuition equity. Student leaders stated their demands while standing shoulder to shoulder and announced their Education-for-All Week and other plans of action.

“We have come here to announce that the united front you see before you will be hosting a week dedicated to Education-for-All. During the upcoming week of Feb. 24 through the 28, we will teach, and learn, and vote, and rally, and take direct action to achieve our collective goals and insure that the voice of the students in the state of Florida is a resounding one,” Brianna Calderon-Roman finished to a round of applause.