USF-St Pete group protests tuition hikes

Activists said there will be more demonstrations on the St. Petersburg campus.

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For years, Florida college students have paid some of the lowest tuition rates in the country. But this is the third year in a row that undergraduate students are paying 15 percent more in tuition. Last June the governing board for the State University System approved a 7 percent increase in tuition. That was on top of an 8 percent tuition increase approved by the Legislature earlier.

Earlier this month students protesting at the USF-Tampa campus were met by university administrators, who sat through a 90-minute meeting to hear the issues. That was followed up by another meeting with the student body government.

In a press release, organizers said another objective was simply to get the opportunity to protest on the university campus. They were informed they could not demonstrate on the St. Pete campus; CL called the university police for a clarification of the campus policy. We will post a response if and when we get it.

Joining the students were several members of the groups Occupy St. Pete and Fight Back Florida.

Megan Szrom, 23, is studying environmental science at the campus. She worried that the tuition hikes are going to prevent some Floridians from attending college.

Christian Brooks, 23, could be one of those affected. Currently he works overnight at a CVS drugstore. His plan is to attend St. Petersburg College for two years and then transfer to USF-St. Pete.
A self-proclaimed Socialist, he believes there needs to be an alternative way to pay for higher education. His idea? "Taxing the rich to fund a free federally funded education system from kindergarten through college."

When told that sounds rather utopian, he replied, "When I think of the word utopian, I think of something fantastic or could never be. And there's free education in other countries."

There is no official word on whether there will be any protests this week on the USF Tampa campus.

  • USF-St. Pete students protest tuition hikes

With a steady rain pouring down on their heads, about 10 activists — some of them students — marched in front of the USF-St. Pete campus this afternoon, protesting 15 percent tuition hikes that undergrad students are facing.

The meeting and demonstration was one of several that are being planned throughout the state this week at universities in Gainesville, Tallahassee, and others in the state system.

Monday's protest was led by Tyler Crawford, an English major who graduated from the school in May, and will return as a graduate student next fall. He said the campaign on the St. Pete campus will escalate in January.

"That will lead to a meeting with the administration," he said. He intends to ask USF-St. Pete Chancellor Margaret Sullivan to sign on to a pledge saying that she supports the students in their opposition to the increases.

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