Students to protest tuition hikes, higher ed cuts on Thursday
Students from public universities across the state on Thursday will protest what they see as "aggressive attacks" on higher education in Florida. That includes tuition hikes and cuts to universities' funding -- both of which are currently being considered by the House and Senate as they work out a final budget.
The Florida Alliance for Student Action is advertising events on seven university campuses:
Students from the University of Florida will rally outside Senate President Mike Haridopolos's office on the UF campus, where he teaches a political science course. Florida State University and Florida A&M University students will march from their Tallahassee campuses to the Capitol. University of South Florida students will stage a walkout from classes then walk across campuses. Florida Atlantic University students and teachers will hold a joint teach-in. University of West Florida students will gather on the campuses' main lawn, and at the University of Central Florida, students will construct a "Wall of Debt" out of bricks representing individual students' loan burdens.
This is the same group that rallied last year against what it saw as similar "attacks" on higher ed by Gov. Rick Scott. Scott's office fought back on the issue, firing out a memo to media that said Scott didn't deserve blame for the tuition hikes, as they were not included in his budget proposal. But he did sign a final budget that included an 8 percent base tuition hike last year.
At the time, Scott's communications director said that Scott did not have the authority to veto tuition increases in the budget -- even though Gov. Charlie Crist did that in 2007. Some have argued that Crist's veto could have been overturned in court, but no one challenged it.
Scott has now come out strongly saying he opposes hiking tuition, but he has not gone so far to say he would try to veto it.
The higher education budget now on the table for the House and Senate does not include base tuition hikes, but it assumes universities will increase tuition up to the 15 percent cap as part of a program known as tuition differential.