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Tallahassee students rally against tuition hikes, budget cuts

By staff

Students listen to speakers denouncing the tuition  hikes.

Tallahassee, FL – On Sept. 28, more than 50 students from Florida State University (FSU) came together to rally against proposed 15% tuition hikes and continued cuts to education.

The student protest, organized by the FSU Progress Coalition, marched to the FSU president’s office where administration officials and University Police awaited them, blocking their entry to the administration building. However, refusing to be turned away, the students’ resilience forced a meeting outside with the FSU President Eric Barron. The students demanded that President Barron attend a public forum with students and stand publicly with them against the Florida state legislature’s education cuts.

The students’ demands were met as Barron agreed to a public forum with students where he would address projected tuition hikes and education cuts, all while taking questions and concerns from students.

Student leaders then presented Barron with 1400 petition signatures, collected by members of the Progress Coalition, reflecting FSU student opposition to the 15% tuition hikes. Barron promised to stand with students against state-initiated education cuts.

“Regular students from all inclinations are very upset with higher tuition and continued education cuts,” said Tallahassee student activist and Progress Coalition member Michael Sampson. “Continued tuition hikes will create a situation where only the privileged minority can receive a college education, hurting many working families and students. Students must unite against these attacks on their ability to get an affordable and quality education.”

Students at FSU are expected to see their tuition rise a projected 60% over the next four years.

“The hypocrisy comes when tuition is raised while President Barron receives a 10% pay raise this year and new pricey construction projects are being built on campus”, said Sampson. “Why are students taking the brunt of cuts to higher education? How can you talk of raising students’ tuition while simultaneously receiving a pay raise or allow the construction of these massive buildings?”

Just a few weeks ago, the FSU Board of Trustees approved a 10% raise for Barron as well as the beginning of a new state-of-the art $15 million athletic facility. All while FSU’s private endowment stands at $450 million. Given these facts, Barron will face an increasingly angry student body.

“As students, we feel as though this issue is more than just an education issue but a moral and social justice issue,” said Tallahassee activist and protest attendee Melanie Zardoya. “This is about institutional transparency and holding higher-level administration and politicians accountable to the needs of the students and their families.”

That accountability from school administrators is missing on campuses resonated with many students during the FSU education rights rally. Members of FSU Progress Coalition hope that President Barron will live by his promise of standing with students against education cuts, and by the appearance of the rally that took place last Sept. 28, the FSU students will hold their administration accountable.

FSU Progress Coalition was formed on the campus of Florida State University in the spring of 2011 as a union of student groups fighting for education rights. For information on how to get involved or information on FSU Progress Coalition, contact [email protected], on Facebook at FSU Progress Coalition, and on Twitter @FSUprogress.

Organizer Michael Sampson confronts FSU President Eric Barron about the tuition

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