Future of summer school in jeopardy

After many Florida public universities were asked to cut their budgets by more than four percent, many schools were forced to make decisions that will dramatically affect students. One service that might be on the chopping block is summer school.

University of Florida President Bernie Machen proposed that the school no longer offer summer school courses until they find other ways to make up for the budget cuts.

Though many who attend Florida schools know that budget cuts must be made, they are dissatisfied with the mandate. In the Tallahassee area, faculty, staff and students are worried about the cancellation of summer school at Florida A&M University.

Felicia Simpson, 22, a senior business administration student from Brooklyn, N.Y., said she did not believe the rumors about summer school being cancelled.

“I thought my professor was just playing,” she said.

However, Simpson is very disturbed by the possibility.

“I’m supposed to be graduating in the summer, and if I can’t graduate I will miss out on opportunities to get jobs, and I will get a late start into the work force.”

Many students share the same feelings as Simpson.

James Bland, student body vice president, said the situation is very unfortunate and does a disservice to many students who need to be enrolled during the summer semester. However, he understands that measures must be taken to decrease the University’s budget.

“The University is doing the best it can for its students,” said Bland, a senior business student from Titusville. “It is my job as vice president to lobby for my fellow Rattlers, but FAMU also has an obligation as a University to continue existing.”

Bland, whose expected graduation date is in April, said students who feel this is an important issue should be proactive by speaking with administrators who have the authority to cancel or continue summer classes. They should also find other routes to get the education they need.

“I would speak to the dean and find a way to take classes, whether it be in Tallahassee or Alaska,” Bland said. “I would do whatever it took for the sake of my grades and graduation.”

Simpson said she has already begun talking to administrators.

“I have gone to see my dean, and I will take it to the presidential level if necessary,” Simpson said.

However, Cynthia Hughes Harris, university provost and chief academic officer, said there is no need for students to worry.

“We are planning to hold summer school,” Harris said. “It may be somewhat different than in past years, but we know that the summer is a very important semester to students.”

While Hughes said she is familiar with the University of Florida’s proposal for budget cuts, she insists that FAMU is committed to its students with its mission.

“Excellence With Caring,” Harris said. “Every university in the state system is doing what’s best for them. We will do what is best for FAMU.”