USF Day at the Capitol, a Student Government (SG) initiative, is taking more than 300 students from the university system to spend the day speaking with state legislators about their initiatives, concerns and the future of the USF System.
SG is partnering with the Alumni Association and other campus affiliates, including the Office of Government Relations, Office of Veterans Affairs and the Morsani College of Medicine. According to Moneer Kheireddine, student body president, the total cost of the event is $50,000, with the majority coming from SG and the remaining costs being shared among the partners.
The event will be held Feb. 13 and students will have free transportation. This year, four buses will leave USF Tampa at 6:30 a.m. and arrive in Tallahassee around 11:30 a.m.
St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses each will have one bus.
According to Kheireddine, the purpose of Day at the Capitol is to connect students with legislators and to connect legislators with USF’s student body to discuss issues that matter.
“It is an amazing opportunity being able to lobby on behalf of your university, going into meeting rooms and talking and educating others on subjects that matter to you,” Kheireddine said. "I think that's also something that you can't put an intrinsic value on because it is simply just a fantastic opportunity to learn.”
According to Grace Hussain, SG assistant director of government affairs, the main issues that students will cover during their visit will be about the remaining funding for the Morsani College of Medicine, preeminence and consolidation.
Students attending the event vary in majors and class years. According to Hussain, medical students will also be attending to talk to lawmakers about the future of the Morsani College of Medicine.
“Students here are proud Bulls and we're proud of what the school is and what it stands for,” Hussain said. “Going up there and letting our legislators know how proud we are and painting the entire Capitol green and gold really does make an impact as they start legislating later on in the session and start putting money and deciding where that money will end up.”
Three hundred students signed up for the event, including 50 from USF St. Petersburg, 50 from USF Sarasota-Manatee and 200 from the Tampa campus.
Uniting the three campuses is a collaborative effort that helps consolidation, Kheireddine said.
“Both sides are also coming and bringing their own student governments and representatives with their own issues that they want to talk about,” Kheireddine said. "This is going to give an opportunity for those students to have their voices heard and their issues addressed as well when they go to the Capitol.”
All students attending the event will be split into 15 groups and discuss predetermined topics — which could include consolidation, preeminence and other funding-based issues — with legislators. They will have some time before the official meeting starts to decide what will be the main topic covered and who will be responsible to talk about each topic.
“It is a great opportunity for them to meet other students throughout their college career that are going to be future leaders of our state, our country and our world,” Hussain said. "Being able to form those connections, and helping students create connections across themselves as well, is a very important part of this event.”