Florida students meet with legislators at the Capitol

Florida Student Power at the Capitol. Photo courtesy: @Floridastudentpower Instagram

On March 28, students representing Florida Student Florida Power met with legislators about House Bill 999. The event, called the 2023 Legislative Session, was led by Marie Rattigan and mobilized over 60 students to connect with legislators and express concerns over the bill.

Every year Florida Student Powers takes students to the capitol to directly address concerns and grievances over issues that directly impact them and to fight for student rights. This year, students expressed concerns about attacks on many current issues, including HB 999.

Legislative officials are currently debating the bill HB 999, which will terminate all funding for diversity, inclusion or programs that promote critical race theory on Florida’s college campuses, including black, brown, and LGBT+ student unions. The bill would also create restrictions from choosing majors and minors in fields related to race or gender studies.

HB 999 also touches on university employment. If passed, the bill will also require post-tenure review from faculty every five years, monitoring productivity and performance ratings of university staff. It also seeks to crack down on admission and graduation standards for Florida universities.

In response to the introduction of this bill, uproar has ensued all around Florida. Many students have organized protests and meetings to express their opposition to the bill and make their voices heard.

Protests at Railroad Square. Photo courtesy: Tarah Jean

Florida Student Power’s mission is to “harness the power of students and youth to create tangible change in our communities and our country.” The organization reflects its mission by conducting campaigns and organizing events such as the 2023 Legislative session that directly give students the power to advocate for change.

“We show up to build power,” Mary Estrada, a worker with Florida Student Power said. “Legislators still support bills and vote in unison despite hearing the stories and testimonies from students directly impacted. When we unite, we are more able to apply pressure on lawmakers to oppose and support bills that we want.”

If passed, the effects of this bill will be felt greatly by students and universities across the state. Many parts of campus life will change and look different for future students coming ahead.

Cynthia Frage, a current journalism student, said HB 999 will erase the history of the people who built this country. “Our rights are under attack. The government has been trying to keep our future generations ignorant on topics regarding diversity, LGBT+, and black history. HB 999 erases education on the history of our country, which can be removed from every university in Florida.”

This bill was heard on March 13, 2023. According to the Florida Senate website, this bill will go into effect on July 1 if passed. More information on the bill can be read here.