At a meeting, a friend of Grand Theft Education said to us that black people have become “crisis people” and, according to her, ever since the Civil Rights Movement subsided into its post-modern complacency, blacks only take action when the situation becomes dire. Baffled by this new perspective of Black Consciousness or lack thereof, we began to contextualize the meaning of the word dire in the case of the current administrative and state attack on higher education.
Would you consider that budget cuts to higher education exceeding $2.1 billion in the state of Florida is dire? If so, our community is in big trouble because Rick Scott is proposing an additional $3.3 billion spending cut that will take $340 million away from institutions of higher learning this year. Already, Florida A&M has suffered due to budget cuts. In spring 2011, our school experienced a reconstruction of programs that eliminated 24 programs and about 242 faculty and staff positions, as well as cutting funding that was previously put toward scholarships.
Programs like Bright Futures are at risk on a state level as well. Bright Futures was cut by 20 percent last semester, and 14 percent of Rattlers receive it and members of the legislature wish to see the program eliminated altogether.
Is tuition increasing by 15% every year for the next four years a dire situation? If so, we are in trouble because that is what President Ammons and the Board of Trustees agreed to last year for FAMU students. Many believe that this is to catch up with the national average, an average that is increasing steadily.
With the increase in tuition, budget cuts and the state making it even harder to receive funding for higher education, we believe that it’s easy to say that not only are we paying more – we’re actually paying more for less. In the United States, student debt has surpassed credit card debt at the staggering rate of $2,853.88 per second.
Is this getting dire enough for you? While there are many reasons that may be the cause of the rise of tuition in Florida, one thing is clear: education is now becoming a privilege of the wealthy.
This situation has become dire and we urge you all to act upon it. Students all over the world are fighting for access to afford education and what better place to act than on FAMU’s campus. Now is the hour to act before we lose complete control over our destiny. FAMU yesterday, FAMU today, but what about tomorrow?