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USF students rally against racist administration

By Eithne Silva

Black students matter

Tampa, FL – On February 25, Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) held a Black Students Matter rally on campus to bring attention to the racist admissions practices that the administration at the University of South Florida (USF) engages in.

Enrollment of Black students at USF has been declining for years and the percent of Black students at USF was the lowest it’s been in the past decade last semester (fall 2019), at 9.4%. This is especially alarming considering that in the Tampa Bay area, where USF is located, Black people comprise 24% of the population.

“We understand how schools like USF partake in acts of anti-Blackness that deny an already marginalized group of people an education,” said Gareth Dawkins, member of Tampa Bay SDS.

Tampa Bay SDS has been confronting administration about this problem and has even met with administrators Dean McDonald, Vice President Paul Dosal, and Vice President of Diversity Dr. Haywood Brown to discuss it. Despite Tampa Bay SDS suggesting methods that have been proven to make college more accessible to historically underrepresented groups, like increasing the financial aid available to Black students and automatically accepting top performing students from all local high schools, the administrators were more concerned with accepting students who were guaranteed to graduate within four years to maintain the university’s status.

During the rally, Tampa Bay SDS brought attention to USF administration’s unwillingness to enroll more Black students, the lack of financial aid available to Black students despite USF’s bloated budget, and USF administration’s continued silence and inaction regarding white supremacist activity on campus.

Regarding their campaign to Increase Black enrollment at USF, Dawkins stated that Tampa Bay SDS “hopes to work with other organizations that also want to increase African American student enrollment at USF and will continue to publicize the declining enrollment because it’s a community issue that concerns all of us.”

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