Florida SGA presidents fight tuition hikes

Florida A & M University’s Student Government President, Ramon Alexander stood outside the old Capitol building Monday during a press conference to address Gov. Jeb Bush’s recent proposal of a five percent tuition increase.

“To our university this is a very sensitive issue, but across the board when you look at tuition in general, so many students across this state are dying trying to get access to higher education and it’s our obligation – my obligation as student body president- to stand up to assure that their voices are heard,” said Alexander, 21, a senior political science student from Tallahassee.

Throughout the press conference, other Student Government officers from across Florida spoke and supported Alexander’s opposition to Bush’s proposal after a monthly Florida Student Association meeting held at the University of Florida.

“When you have 36,000-38,000 students everyday who are telling you that they are having problems paying the cost of tuition, cost of living and the cost of housing-you’ve got to say something, so it’s our job to say something,” said Ahmad Abuznaid, Florida State University’s student government vice president.

In effort to address the negative effects that the increase would have among students, Alexander said that minority students will unfortunately be majorly affected by the governor’s tuition increase. 

“Over 90 percent of our students are on need-based aid, so an increase in tuition makes our enrollment decline,” Alexander said.

On Feb. 2, when Governor Bush proposed a five percent increase in tuition for in-state students Bush also proposed a 7.5 percent increase in out-of-state and graduate tuition.

Alexander’s strong opposition to the governor’s proposal comes after a severe decline in minority enrollment among state universities this year. “When enrollment declines, our university losses millions of dollars, making higher education to some unattainable,” Alexander said.

Like Alexander, Gabriel Pendas, the senate president at FSU, said that students across the country are against the governor’s tuition increase and have been actively encouraging various organizations on campus to spread the word.

“At FSU we have a number of organizations that are working hard to educate students about the issues currently facing higher education in the state of Florida,” Pendas said.

Throughout the conference Alexander remained optimistic because of the governor’s recent attempt to speak to students at FAMU about the decline in minority enrollment.

“The governor was willing to have a dialog about access diversity and putting up forth a proposed plan to address the number of enrolled, so I’m more than positive that the governor will be willing to sit down with us to address this increase in tuition,” Alexander said.

In beginning the process, Pendas said that he has begun to write several resolutions that are now awaiting the approval of the Florida Student Association.

Maxon Victor, the student government association president at the University of South Florida, said he is waiting for the command of his fellow peers, who he supports, in order to help voice student concerns on Bush’s increase in tuition.

“I share the same stance as my fellow peers in opposing the governor’s proposal to increase tuition. This issue is very serious because it affects the lower class bracket in most cases, and it is not fair,” Victor said.

Contact Christina Hordge at ChristinaHordge@yahoo.com