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USF veterans gain support for petition

What started as an idea mentioned in passing at meetings is more of a reality, as USF’s Student Veterans Association (SVA) has received more than 350 signatures for a petition to help veterans receive in-state tuition.

But they’re waiting on university administrators to give the go-ahead to send the petition to Florida legislators, said Corey Wilson, a sophomore majoring in chemistry and writer of the petition.

University officials announced at a January meeting that they would lobby the petition at the state level, said Will Boland, a junior majoring in nursing and president of SVA.

Tracy Tyree, associate vice president of Student Affairs, said the University is doing its best to support SVA’s efforts and hopes to make USF an even more veteran friendly campus.

“I can say to you that all of my experience and conversations would suggest that the University wants to be as accessible to veterans as possible,” Tyree said.

Last year, the Higher Education Appropriations Conforming Bill (Senate Bill 1696) required Florida state universities to “affirmatively determine” whether students applying for state residency meet the new requirements for in-state tuition.

USF implemented a new policy that no longer allows students to have the option to qualify for residency, Provost Ralph Wilcox said to The Oracle in May.

The petition requests that all veterans who have been honorably or medically discharged are granted residency to get in-state tuition fees when attending a university or college in Florida regardless of their state residency prior to joining the Armed Forces, Boland said.

The petition, which was completed in November 2009, is ready to be sent with the number of signatures it has gained, but SVA wants more to have a bigger effect, Wilson said.

“If we make it known to our representatives that it’s common knowledge that veterans should be taken care of (in Florida) … then Florida representatives will jump onboard with that and potentially take care of veterans,” he said.

The petition can be signed by anyone who is a USF student or a registered voter, Wilson said.

“We’re planning on advertising through Note-a-Bull News, and we asked SVA members to announce it to their classes,” Boland said.

Students interested in signing the petition can go to one of the SVA meetings every Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in Social Sciences Building Room 131, Boland said.