An update by the SGA President

Greetings Rattlers! The following comprises the first of a weekly column dedicated to the disbursement of information relevant to you as a student of Florida A&M University. As a Rattler, you lay claim to enviable potential, but must also contend with considerable obstacles. Each week, I will strive to shed light on the path our university is taking during these pivotal times, providing candid information and perspective in hopes that you will continue to make pragmatic decisions concerning the efficacy of your education and collegiate life.

Florida Budget: Presently, our university is confronted with the possibility of massive budget cuts as a result of the weakening economy in Florida and the country. Governor Crist has presented the legislature with a budget calling for billions of dollars in reductions.

Though within this budget exists $6 billion for education, lawmakers are considering cutting between 10% and 15% from the 11 institutions in the state university system (SUS). For FAMU, this means that anywhere between $10.3 and $15.4 million will be absent from the university’s FY09-10 Budget. The Board of Trustees and Administration are analyzing scenarios that include hiring freezes, elimination of various OPS (Other Personnel Services – which fund many student-held jobs) positions, and cancellation of Summer “A” Session. The cuts, if passed, equate to reduced programs, less services, and larger class sizes. As students, you are empowered to catalyze remarkable progress. I implore you to contact your representatives and senators in the legislature and remind them of the importance of funding higher education.

Differential Tuition: Last November, Governor Crist proposed that each university in the SUS, including FAMU, be enabled to raise its tuition by 15% annually over the next several years until Florida’s base tuition, which is approximately $3,800/year, reaches that of the national average of $6,585. This program, called differential tuition, is already exercised by Florida State University, University of Florida, Florida International University, University of South Florida, and University of Central Florida. Under the plan, each school’s Board of Trustees will have the liberty to levy whatever tuition increase it determines best protects the quality of education on the Hill. Furthermore, each university is required to reinvest 30% of the differential into assisting those students in need of financial aid (more than 80% at FAMU). This initiative is being considered as a bill within the House of Representatives (HB403) and Senate (SB762).

The Hill: This week, your student government will be hosting the 3rd Annual State of the Black Student Summit. A year in the making, this event promises to provide you opportunities to speak with some of society’s most successful politicians, artists, and entrepreneurs in workshop and panel discussions. The Summit will be held on Friday, April 3 from 4:30 P.M. to 6:30 P.M. in Gaither Gym, with hip-hop and politically-based workshops preceding. Lastly, BE OUT DAY will be held this Saturday, April 4 from 11-4 at the FAMU Park located behind B.L. Perry. See you there!

Andrew Collins is the Student Body President.