Tampa students rally against budget cuts, face repression from the USF administration
Tampa, FL – Students at the University of South Florida (USF) and concerned members of the Tampa community gathered at the entrance of the university, October 28, for a rally against recently implemented and proposed budget cuts. This rally, hosted by Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), aimed to ensure that the school did not make any more cuts that would affect students and workers, and instead wanted USF to take cuts from the budget of the USF Police Department and highly-paid administrators.
With news of the undergraduate college of education closing and the reduction of resources available for disabled students, SDS believes that the university could’ve done more to avoid these types of cuts and will keep fighting to make sure that workers and students are put first instead maximizing profits.
However, before the rally started, the group was approached by USF Dean of Students Danielle Mcdonald, who told the group that Tampa Bay SDS has been provisionally suspended. The students were told that the rally they were originally going to hold at the Lifsey House – the president's mansion on campus – would be considered trespassing and that academic and legal action could be taken against anyone who participated.
With threats of arrests and penalties towards the organization, the students felt as though this was all an act of political suppression. Eithne Silva, a member of SDS, discussed this act from McDonald and the school; “The hostility with which the dean of students approached us shows the university's true intentions. What they really want to do is use every possible avenue they have to suppress progressive student voices.”
After the encounter with the dean, SDS and other members of the school and community decided to relocate their rally. At the new location, the group chanted about the university and administration needing to prioritize people over profits and gave speeches about their campaign, defunding USFPD, and worker solidarity.
Despite the repression from the school, Tampa Bay SDS will continue fighting for the school to make financial decisions that are for the benefit of students and workers. As stated by Zachary Rashas, a member of Tampa SDS, “I think it's really important to keep organizing, especially now, because the fact that they [USF administration] get mad shows that we struck a nerve somewhere, and they're afraid that we will disrupt the status quo.”