Students demand tuition equity from University of Florida Board of Trustees
Gainesville, FL – On Dec. 5, 30 members and allies of the Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Florida (SDS at UF) gathered in front of Emerson Alumni Hall to rally for tuition equity for undocumented students. In other words, to have in-state tuition for all students who graduate from Florida high schools, regardless of immigration documents.
This was the fall semester meeting of the University of Florida Board of Trustees. With the board in charge of tuition policy changes, gaining board support for tuition equity was paramount.This past semester, SDS at UF, CHISPAS and Gators for Tuition Equity gathered over 6000 petition signatures, 200 letters from students and letters of solidarity from 11 campus cultural organizations. Also, the UF student senate passed a resolution, co-authored by Conor Munro of SDS, in support of tuition equity.
SDS at UF won the chance to speak to the board due to the mass campaign and overwhelming positive support from the student body. The board allowed three speakers, each with five minutes, to present arguments for tuition equity to be passed at UF.
The first speaker was Candy Herrera, a member of Graduates Assistants United and a former undocumented student. Herrera shared her experience as an undocumented student aiming for higher education. She brought up how the board speaking positively on this issue would, “be a powerful gesture to people of color...and send a message that immigrants are valued and respected” at UF.
The second speaker was Lianna Guerra, from Gators for Tuition Equity, who spoke on the advantages of implementing tuition equity at the university.
Conor Munro finished the round of presentations by eloquently summarizing the student support for this campaign throughout the semester: “University of Florida has a chance to take part in history; it can either be on the side that lags behind, or it can be a beacon of progress and become the flagship university it was meant to be.”
Once the speakers finished, different board members spoke in support of tuition equity. University of Florida President, Bernie Machen, even stated that he “was proud” of the students who worked to bring this campaign to the forefront.
The Board of Trustees unanimously voted to release a statement of support, positively contributing to the campaign.