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Tampa sit-in demands education rights

By Walt Byars

Tampa, FL – Eleven activists with the Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) occupied the University of South Florida's Kiran C. Patel Center, March 29. From noon until the school's top administrators left their offices at 5:00 p.m., students erected signs denouncing tuition hikes, perused a stack of books by leftist authors and gawked at how much more luxurious the building was, than the buildings than don't house the University's top administrators.

The unannounced occupation was the first follow-up to a March 6 action ( ), when over 20 students spontaneously decided to occupy the Patel Center after marching to demand a meeting with President Judy Genshaft.

SDS will hold a sit-in every week until Dr. Genshaft agrees to discuss education rights at a student-facilitated forum. Sooner or later, the administration will learn the consequences of sending the message that they are uninterested in accommodating anyone without wealth to throw around.

Adam Freeman, USF's Media/Public Affairs Coordinator, condescendingly advised the students to contact their “representative” – student body president Brian Goff. The occupiers pointed out that Goff, whom the administration sent to speak with SDS during the March 6 sit-in, had promised to send an e-mail requesting that Genshaft agree to the forum and to join two activists with the Coalition to End Rape Culture at an upcoming meeting with the victim's advocacy center. He didn't keep his word on either front.

Freeman tried to make a big deal out of how far in advance Genshaft's schedule was booked, but admitted that no attempts had been made to schedule a meeting in the three weeks since students had first marched in to demand one. The university's representatives became perturbed when activists pointed this out. ( )

Danielle Leppo, an English major at USF, said, “We showed the administration that we're not backing down, that we will be heard and that we will continue our sit-ins until our demands are met.”

Gage Lacharite, a freshman majoring in computer science, noted “The administration gave us the same runaround they had given us before, only this time they begrudgingly promised they would tell us by next week if a meeting could be set up.”

USF students will continue to struggle until their demands for education rights, including no tuition hikes, are met.

#TampaFL #EducationRights