Florida college students gathered at the capitol Wednesday in order to help improve higher education and hold legislators accountable for their actions.
Over 1,000 college students from around the state and advocates for higher education joined forces and attended the “Rally in Tally,” sponsored by the FORCE Coalition.
FORCE, which stands for Fighting for Our Rights Concerning Education, was formed by 24 student organizations on the campus of Florida State University in order to combat the increasing trend in Florida of cuts to state supported scholarships, cuts to higher education and tuition increases.
“This rally was so important because if Bright Futures and other state supported scholarships are taken away many students won’t be able to pay for college and get the education they need to succeed and help give back to this state and this country,” said April Gale, a freshman communications student at Florida Atlantic University.
With the Florida Student Association reporting that $484 million has been cut from higher education in Florida since 1990, the FORCE Coalition’s main objectives are to stop excessive tuition hikes, stop budget cuts to higher education, increase the amount of need-based aid given by the state, and save the Bright Futures scholarship program.
“I didn’t come to the rally for me, I came for my family,” said Jennifer Garrett, a junior business student at Florida State University. “I have younger cousins who will be attending college and they have Florida Prepaid scholarships …that should not be taken away from them and they should have a chance to get a quality education without worrying about financial burdens.”
Members of the coalition and their supporters agreed the march was effective and that the rally was a step toward influencing change in Florida’s educational system.
In the months following the rally, the FORCE Coalition plans on meeting with legislators to actively campaign for students’ educational rights.
“A wise person once said half the battle is showing up,” said Artvia Wilborn, a junior business management student from FSU. “In order to get what we need from the Legislature and Florida’s education system, we rallied together to show that we are united and will do whatever it takes to support those people in powerful positions that will make a positive difference on behalf of Florida’s students.”
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