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Students travel to capital to ‘rally’ for change

By the candy-striped awnings of the Capitol Building in Tallahassee, 40 USF students met Wednesday for the Student Government-sponsored event “Rally in Tally” — an event that gave students a forum to discuss issues relevant to them with legislators from districts across the state.

Some of the biggest issues discussed were the economy and budget cuts.

Anita Hall, program director for the Rally in Tally, said a goal of the event was to bring students together on the steps of the capitol for a press conference that would show how many students across the state care about their school and want their voices heard.

“Each university tried to commit 50-60 students,” Hall said. “Students actually get to meet with legislators one-on-one and talk about changes that they want to see at the University.”

Frank Maletesta, SG director of Community and Government Affairs, said he thought budget cuts were the most important topic for  legislators.

“Budgets cuts are the biggest issue facing us,” he said. “(They) aren’t going to affect the $360 million dollars that goes toward research — (it’s) going to affect Joe Schmo in the political science class, who has to sit next to 30 other people that he would not have sat next to in a 10-person classroom. It’s going to affect in-the-classroom undergraduate education.”

Christian Fulton, a senior political science major, said he thought the event would be good experience for a future career in his area of study.

“I’m hoping to pursue a career in either the legal field or politics, so it’s a good opportunity for exposure,” he said.

Fulton said he considered what issues students are passionate about and talked to legislators about these specific issues during the event.

“I know a lot of the students are worried about the impact of the economy,” he said. “Specifically, many people want to know why there’s so much construction on campus when the money can be used for other things.”

Fulton met with Kurt Browning, Florida’s secretary of state and a USF alumnus.

“Browning actually cared about students — you could tell by the way he was talking. He talked about how education can lower the prison population because education prevents crime,” Fulton said.

Fulton said he felt the event was definitely worthwhile.

“You get to see how business is done in the capital,” he said. “I never thought you could just talk to senators and representatives — I thought there was an ivory tower and there were people to go through.”

Attendees included not only members of Student Government but College Democrats and College Republicans.

Twice the amount of students from USF attended than froms all other schools, Maletesta said.

“We attribute that to SG being on top of their game,” he said.

However, Hall said all students have a part to play in the political process.

“You don’t have to know anything about government, but it’s important that you become involved,” Hall said. “Everybody knows what they like and don’t like at USF.”