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Student activists blossom across Florida

By staff |
September 6, 2011
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Gainesville Area Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) holding banner
Gainesville Area Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) place a banner on the steps of City Hall reading "The City of Gainesville is a Labor Sanctuary" during a march hosted by the Fight Back! Florida coalition, a march against State cuts that favor the wealthy and hurt working families. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tampa, FL - All across Florida this fall, student activists in are off to an amazing start. Groups in Tallahassee, Pensacola, Gainesville, Tampa and Orlando have blasted onto the scene with activism and victories, although universities and colleges started 2011-2012 classes only weeks ago.

August saw the rise of several new Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) chapters and affiliates in various cities across Florida. The University of South Florida (USF) is now home to Tampa Bay SDS, whose first meeting ended up channeling the anger of over 30 students into concrete ways to fight tuition hikes on their campus. Tampa Bay SDS is also preparing for the upcoming March on the Republican National Convention happening next year.

Along with more traditional approaches to student activism, some students in Florida have decided to try experimental approaches. The newly formed Uhuru at Florida State University (FSU) is taking the fight against state budget cuts into the midst of Black and Brown students across Tallahassee’s various college campus. Their level of dedication to fighting racism and establishing a strong sense of nation-hood in the minds of young oppressed nationalities is remarkable. Uhuru at FSU has affiliated with SDS on a national level, drawing benefits from a large network of enthusiastic supporters, but retaining its autonomy on a local level.

Often referred to as the “Third World of America,” the Florida Panhandle saw students organize a new SDS chapter with a strong emphasis on fighting state budget cuts and participating in the Fight Back! Florida coalition to end cuts, a coalition which has chapters in 14 cities across the state.

SDS at the University of Central Florida in Orlando is also making strides in their community through their excellent self-published magazine, Sounds of a Democratic Society.

Last but not least, Gainesville Area SDS has become a major center for student activism in the United States, kicking the year off with a strategic planning meeting attended by over 50 students. Recently, the students shifted their focus to fighting the 15% tuition increase that recently rocked their school, with high hopes for repealing the increase. Incredibly, Gainesville Area SDS recently won two of their protracted campaigns - seeing that the racist police officer who shot Kofi Adu-Brempong in last year's March police brutality case finally get fired for good, and defeating the Block Tuition plan crafted by their administration which threatened to charge students for classes they weren't taking - administrators which have recently announced an end to Block Tuition as per the demands of Gainesville Area SDS.

Students in Florida are already leading their movements in creative ways and it will certainly be exciting to see what they are able to accomplish this year.