University of Florida SDS demands tuition equity
Gainesville, FL – On Oct. 17, student activists at the University of Florida (UF) officially launched their tuition equity campaign by having a demonstration at Tigert Hall, the University of Florida’s administration building. Around 40 students gathered in front of Tigert Hall to demand in-state tuition for undocumented students who have graduated from Florida high schools. The delegation made speeches calling for the university to implement DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process) at UF and live up to its claim of being a flagship university and open the door to undocumented students.
Protesters held signs like, “No Gator is illegal,” and “Tuition equity for all.” UF student Conor Munro, an organizer with Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), said, “We can’t wait for the same Florida legislature who has for years tabled tuition equity bills and continually cuts funding to higher education. We must be the example to the legislature by demanding and implementing tuition equity at the UF which our board of trustees can do as seen with FIU this past summer. ”
At the event chants rang out of “¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!” and “What do we want? Tuition Equity! When do we want it? Now!” Student after student, including undocumented students, gave testimony on why implementing tuition equity at the university was the just thing to do.
Filipino student Chrisley Carpio, an organizer with SDS, said, “Undocumented students are told in high school that they can work hard and earn their way up, but that hope is shut down as soon as they graduate. The university can’t posit itself as accepting the brightest minds when a community of people are being excluded from its doors because of exorbitant out of state fees.”
Students for a Democratic Society organized the campaign in response to the growing demand from the undocumented community on campus and the recent implementation of DACA by Florida International University. The event had support from an host of organizations like CHISPAS (an immigrants rights group), Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, Hispanic Students Association, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Graduate Assistants United.
After the round of speeches concluded, the administration sent their spokesperson Jeanna Mastrodicasa, who agreed to student’s demands of a meeting concerning tuition equity for undocumented students. University of Florida SDS plans on hosting events in the future with the goal of getting their board of trustees to put tuition equity on the agenda and implement it at the university.