With one of the more controversial bills currently moving through the Florida Legislature in HB 6005 (Campus Carry), the USF Tampa Faculty Senate Executive Committee has put forth a resolution in opposition.
“Be it resolved that the USFT Faculty Senate strongly opposes any legislation that allows individuals other than sworn law enforcement officers to carry firearms on the university campus,” the resolution said.
The bill, the brainchild of Sen. Greg Steube (R), looks to eliminate the restriction placed on the second amendment for people with a concealed weapon permit to carry a firearm onto college campuses, in airport terminals and at government meetings.
A similar bill was put forth and shot down last year.
The resolution, sponsored by Senate President Michael Teng, has been passed with a majority vote through the executive committee and now continues to the full Faculty Senate. The FSU Faculty Senate has also put through a similar resolution.
“Universities are sanctuaries for scholarship and learning, where firearms have traditionally not been allowed,” the resolution said. “The presence of concealed weapons on campus has not proven effective at preventing mass shootings on college campuses in states that allow campus carry.”
Changes to pre-eminence
The USF administration is keeping a close eye on the Florida Legislature this spring in hopes of moving one step closer to pre-eminent status.
The “Florida Excellence in High Education Act of 2017,” which would ease one of USF’s remaining benchmarks to qualify, is currently moving through the Legislature.
The bill would change the requirement from a 70 percent six-year graduation rate to a 50 percent four-year rate. The university has a 51 percent four-year graduation as of summer 2016.
“Who knows in this legislative session,” USF Provost Ralph Wilcox told the Executive Committee on Wednesday. “There could be tweaks to performance-based funding and pre-eminence. But still, without change, our plan is still to meet that 11th metric for pre-eminence in 2018.”
USF must meet 11 of the 12 metrics to achieve full pre-eminence — and receive its share of the $20 million of recurring money from the state split with UF and FSU, the only two state pre-eminent schools.
USF now meets 10 of the 12 benchmarks after recently surpassing the 90 percent freshman retention rate for the first time in school history.
The other motivation for USF to reach full pre-eminent status is the proposed cut in funding for emerging pre-eminent schools such as USF. The bill would cut the current funding by 50 percent from $10 million to $5 million.
USF boasts multiple national rankings
USF has been nationally recognized for a variety of aspects in the recent weeks from No. 1 in Florida for black student success to producing the most Fulbright Scholars in the nation.
USF ranks No. 1 in Florida and sixth nationally in bridging the graduation gap between black and white students, according to a report released by The Education Trust on March 1.
“That’s been a major commitment of our Student Success Initiative the past few years, essentially eliminating any gap in completion rates white students, African American students, Hispanic students and any gap based on socioeconomic status,” Wilcox said.
The school’s graduation rate of black students has risen to 69 percent, compared to the national average of 40.9 detailed in the report. USF has only a 2.1 percent graduation rate gap between black and white students, according to the report.
The school also boasts 12 Fulbright Scholars, which leads the nation. Ohio State ranks second with 10.
Fulbright Scholarships are competitive, merit-based grants given to students to study internationally.