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Tampa students rally against cuts to education, demand defunding of USF police department

By staff |
October 23, 2020
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Tampa students protest budget cuts, demand defunding of campus police.
Tampa students protest budget cuts, demand defunding of campus police. Tampa students protest budget cuts, demand defunding of campus police.

Tampa, FL - On October 20, around 40 students and community members protested against the University of South Florida’s (USF) budget cuts and demanded defunding the campus police. Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) held the protest as part of their Chop from the Top and the Cops campaign and a new demand for USF to keep the College of Education after recent news of the department’s closure.

The reason for ending undergraduate education programs, according to USF, is that attendance has been low and that ending the program will save the school about $6.8 million. This decision is the beginning of USF’s implementation of this school year’s 8.5% budget cut. SDS demands that no departments at USF close, and that no workers are laid off due to these budget cuts.

Gareth Dawkins, a member of Tampa SDS, said, “The university could’ve enacted greater cuts on the police department or defunded them completely as opposed to shutting down the undergraduate department of education.”

Instead of these budget cuts, SDS demands having the highest-paid administrators take substantial pay cuts and defunding the USF Police Department. USF’s police department had a budget of $7 million last year and have announced a 5% cut this year.

Veronica Sierra, another member of SDS, stated, “A school that charges $90 a semester for parking passes during a pandemic when there aren’t as many students on campus, has $7 million to spend for campus police, and overpays their administration, shouldn’t have to cut off an entire college. These funds should be put towards helping the school and students, not making things worse.”

SDS’s Chop from the Top and the Cops campaign will continue to demand more resources for students and workers and that budget cuts come from the most overfunded parts of the budget, such as the administration and the police department.