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Tampa Bay students disrupt USF board meeting, demand protections for undocumented students

By Taylor Cook

Tampa SDS demands protections for undocumented students.

Tampa, FL – The Tampa Bay chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) held a series of protests and a sit-in at the University of South Florida’s (USF) main student center on February 12, to pressure the administration to increase protections for immigrant and international students. These protests were a continuation of Tampa Bay SDS’s main campaign called, “Immigrants are Here to Stay” in which they demand noncompliance with federal agencies such as ICE, FBI, DHS so that those agencies cannot receive the personal information of documented and undocumented students on campus.

Students held a series of protests inside and outside of the Marshall Student Center (MSC) – starting around 9 a.m., with a group of SDS members protesting outside of the MSC while other members of the crowd went inside to announce their demands in a Board of Trustees meeting.

“In the time of the Trump administration, immigrants are under attack like never before. This means USF has an obligation to its immigrant students to stand against the Trump administration’s attacks and end compliance with these federal agencies on our campus,” declared SDS member Elizabeth Kramer.

While in the Board of Trustees meeting, the students were forcefully detained by on-campus police, resulting in one student being gripped and shoved into a trashcan by an officer. The students were then banned from the MSC for several days.

Students continued to march and chant inside of the MSC until they were threatened by police and USF administration, resulting in a sit-in on the first floor of the MSC. Chants continued intermittently and included, “Up, up with education; down, down with deportation,” and “No justice, no peace! No ICE or police!”

“Today showed us the lengths that USF administration is willing to go in order to ignore and suppress the voice of SDS on campus. They showed us how much they want to resist more progressive policies that would better protect undocumented students,” said SDS member Tajj Mainor.

Tampa Bay SDS did not obtain a meeting with the president or higher-level officials of the university, but will continue to wage their “Immigrants are Here to Stay” campaign to defend immigrant students on campus, while the university continues to side with the Trump administration.

#TampaFL #ImmigrantRights #PeoplesStruggles #TampaSDS #USF