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Students advocate university funding at Capitol

It’s not every day that 200 USF students pile onto buses and flood the Capitol. However, Tuesday was not just every day. Hundreds of students in suits and skirts attended USF’s annual “Student Government (SG) Day at the Capitol” in Tallahassee.

SG Day at the Capitol “gives students the opportunity to meet with elected officials, and discuss USF’s legislative priorities, which (are) party set forth by students themselves,” according to the event’s website.

Each year, all of the students who register and attend an SG training session head to the capitol with an agenda. This year’s priorities included several major, USF-exclusive projects, as well as others with statewide impact.

The downtown medical school and funding for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs at USF were among the agenda items brought up by student representatives who attended the event, which began at 9 a.m. and lasted until 4 p.m.

Among those in attendance were student body president Andy Rodriguez and student body vice president Michael Malanga.

According to Rodriguez, students advocated for the New Florida Consortium, which is a collaboration between USF, FIU and UCF that would allow graduates from each university to succeed in the other universities’ cities.

“The idea behind the consortium is an opportunity for three really large universities in three really large cities to share resources, things like being able to get an internship as a USF student in Orlando or Miami,” Rodriguez said.

“And sharing whatever different resources we might have in terms of STEM fields and other fields to make sure students are employed and career-ready when they … get out of college.”

Another topic USF brought to the capitol was continued funding for the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at USF. The center assisted in launching a Master of Science in Cybersecurity, as well as certifications for various security related fields, according to its website.

During the day, students were broken into groups and met with various legislators. This year, Rodriguez said students met with a total of 41 legislators.

The day allows students to advocate for things they care about, he said.

“Every time that I’ve come to this, everyone that I bump into in the Capitol building, all they want to do is ask us ‘What’s going on?’” He said. “It’s just fun being able to talk about things that really matter to us as students.”

SG Day at the Capitol cost approximately $24,000 and was paid for with Activity and Service funds.

The event is free for any student that wants to attend. It concluded with a reception at the Governor’s Club, and students were soon back on the buses headed for Tampa.