Anyone in Florida has undoubtedly heard the outcry surrounding the proposed 58 percent cut to the University of South Florida’s state funding. It is outrageous, troubling and downright unfair.
Some have sensed the changing reputation of USF for years. Since the appointment of USF President Judy Genshaft in 2000 and the charter of the first Board of Trustees in 2001, USF has steadily climbed the ranks of national higher education, including being named to the top tier of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and becoming a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.
But with all the growing successes, there are bound to be opponents — some with land interests in Polk County. This is when a defining moment is either seized or allowed to pass unnoticed. USF is seizing its moment.
While other institutions have been basking in the glory of their long-held reputations, USF has been kindling a fire and passion in its students, which has been released over the last week. With more than 20,000 letters sent to the state legislation from alumni, as well as two student-filled vans descending upon the state capital, it is evident that USF will not go quietly.
For years USF has worked to change its commuter school reputation to one of school spirit and loyalty. So, while J.D. Alexander and the Florida Senate may claim a short-term victory, the battle is far from over, because when you run with the bulls, you’d better be prepared for a stampede.
Danielle Grams is a junior majoring in biology.
Through the USF Legislative Internship Program, directed by Robin Jones and sponsored by the Alumni Association, I was given the opportunity to intern for state Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, during the 2012 legislative session in Tallahassee and witness firsthand the evolution of our Florida laws.
In the wake of the storm, I witnessed what seems to be a declaration of war on USF from Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, who waited until the deadline to offer his proposal that USF would suffer a budget cut of nearly 60 percent.
Alexander’s attempt to slide the proposal under the rug without any opposition failed. Within hours, USF President Judy Genshaft was in Tallahassee with news anchors following her every step.
The next day, as soon as I walked into the Capitol lobby, I ran into Genshaft, greeted her and offered my support in efforts to save USF. She urged me to keep fighting because the battle wasn’t over.
By the end of the Senate Budget Committee meeting, Alexander removed part of his proposal, saving USF $25 million. Though some money has been restored, there is still a possibility that USF could face additional cuts.
Its mind-boggling what goes on in the Capitol during session. Some of the bills and debates are ridiculous. We often blame big government for what’s going on when in fact it’s the politicians in our backyard that affect our lives everyday. As students, we can become the most deadly force to the state government. We can stop any legislation that affects us if we can make our presence known in Tallahassee.
Kassandra Timothe is a senior majoring in political science.