Student body presidents from Florida universities meet with Gov. Charlie Crist

Student body presidents from twelve universities in Florida learned more about the New Florida initiative in a meeting with Gov. Charlie Crist after the Capitol’s rally.

Crist informed the student leaders in the hour-long meeting about the initiative and what it will bring to the table to help universities deal with the ongoing budget cuts and eradication of school programs.

According to the Florida Board of Governors Web site, the New Florida initiative will increase the productivity of Florida’s universities by 2015.

While the student presidents were happy to hear the news of helping their universities, concerns were still addressed to the governor as to how fast the initiative could work.

John Barnes, student body president of the University of North Florida, mentioned his concerns about his university not having the proper courses anymore to graduate certain students, all because of the budget cuts.

Barnes also mentioned Florida A&M University’s pharmacy school having to turn away students because of class sizes and funding.

Crist, along with Frank Brogan, chancellor of the State University System of Florida, and Board of Governor’s member Ava Parker, provided tips to the young presidents on how to stay informed and help their school and its students deal with the cuts.

“Its what we’re doing here today. Students have a voice and they have to use that voice. Clearly the best funnel for that voice is through their student government association.”

Brogan said. “It’s amazing how you can take thousands of people and through the appropriate conduit, provide an even louder voice and the student government association gives you that mega phone.”

Hannah Fazio, a third-year student at UNF said she wanted to come out and see how the legislative process works. Brogan said that kind of attitude would help the legislature understand how important funding is for Florida’s Universities.

“I would say to the students at Florida A&M and to any other universities, educate yourself as to what the issue are, get involved with your student government and if you’re too busy to do that, send them an email, write them letters, talk to them and say please make my voice heard in Tallahassee,” Brogan said.

Parker agreed with Brogan and said that with so many students, they could get the results they are beckoning for.

“I think that if we all kind of work together on this, we really can make a difference. We have 300,000 students if you think about it like that,” Parker said. “If we coordinate our efforts, and make sure that through our student government association and through our Florida student association, we’ll reach out to our legislators and let them know we’re concerned about these issues.”

Fazio, 20, said that the eco adventure program had been cut from UNF along with big financial cuts to several programs.

“They also cut a bunch of funding from our Women’s Center and the International Center, which represents huge portions of our population at school,” said the Los Angeles native.
FAMU Student Body President Gallop Franklin said that in order for the situation to improve, students will have to become aware make notice to their legislature.

“We have a great legislative session to look forward to. We have to make sure that we’re continually testifying in front of the appropriations committee and in front of the higher educations committee,” Franklin said.

Crist agreed.

“Students can help by what these presidents have done today and that is to participate in the process, visit with their respected members of the Florida house and the Florida senate and continue to advocate on behalf of fellow students and higher education in our state,” Crist said. “We want to get this done. We’re committed to it and our administration. More help from more people is better.”