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Poll reveals college student voting trends

Results from a statewide university straw poll conducted at six Florida institutions show students favor limiting the Board of Trustees’ powers. The poll comes just after USF’s Board of Trustees voted Monday to oppose the amendment that would transfer their power of spending, tuition and other policy-making standards to a state-level entity.

Six universities participated in a poll conducted Wednesday to vote on issues that will be present on the Nov. 5 ballot for the gubernatorial election. Results from the poll included Florida A & M University, Stetson University, University of Florida, USF Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses and the University of Tampa.

The poll was open to students to make a selection for governor and the amendments.

Amendments 9 and 11 have brought the most controversy in the upcoming election since they could change the structure of the educational system and its policy making.

The faculty union at USF has criticized the Board of Trustees’ search for more power by opposing Amendment 11. The faculty have stated their concern at meetings in the past week. Most are worried this could affect their salaries and rights in the collective bargaining agreement.

If Amendment 11 is approved, the Board of Trustees’ power would revert back to a state-level entity as it was during the establishment of the Board of Regents.

A Board of Governors would then be established with 17 members to oversee only university policy. The current trustees would remain, but they would serve on the Board of Governors.

Amendment 9 would require state schools to have lower class sizes by 2010. However, this would call for more money from the Florida Legislature.

On Monday the USF Board of Trustees voted to oppose Amendment 9, as well.

A majority of USF students participating in the poll supported Amendment 11. Only 259 students voted, with 39 percent voting for the amendment and 24 percent against. The remaining percentage included those who didn’t have enough information or were undecided.

Regarding Amendment 9, 66 percent of USF students supported it.

The poll showed a higher amount of support from universities for Amendment 9 than Amendment 11.

Susan MacManus, distinguished USF political science professor, said it cannot be determined if students would vote the same way for the amendments on the Nov. 5 ballot.

MacManus added that the students’ votes are not likely to make a significant change on the results only because they do not participate much in elections.

No more than 1,200 students participated in each straw poll.

MacManus said the results for the students at all universities that participated in the amendment poll show that students have gained more interest in the gubernatorial election, but only more than 1,000 students, from all six universities combined, participated in the poll.

“I think most of our students are paying attention to this,” MacManus said.

In the USF Tampa campus straw poll for the governors’ race, only 272 students participated, with 54 percent favoring Democrat Bill McBride over incumbent Republican Jeb Bush.