By Mariah McQueen
Some people think that the controversial bill containing language that would unravel USF St. Petersburg’s separate accreditation is a foregone conclusion.
But I refuse to do nothing while the bill flies over students’ heads.
House Bill 423 contains an expansion of Bright Futures funding which I fully support, and in fact, lobbied for in Tallahassee back in early November. What I fully oppose in HB 423 is statute 1004.335, which would consolidate the three USF system campuses’ accreditation, and diminish our earned identity.
I am a strong believer in the difference that citizen and student advocacy can make. We need as many students as possible to speak up.
Employees working for the university are restricted as to what they can say or do about this bill because it can jeopardize their jobs. This is why it is even more important that we, the students, speak out.
While I wear many hats on this campus, I am advocating against this statute as a student and only as a student. I am confident that if we use the negative energy we have toward this bill to demonstrate action for something we believe in, this bill will not pass.
Our administration is trying its best to answer any questions students and staff have regarding the bill, but it is my belief that the information given is sugar-coated to relieve anger and prevent chaos.
This is expected of any kind of leadership in this kind of situation, so I encourage students to do their own research and form their own opinions based on unbiased sources.
While there are several reasons I personally oppose the consolidation, I will summarize my stance.
Our institution has grown too much to have our progress reversed. As mentioned in the recent Crow’s Nest article “Surprise move leaves campus frustrated, fuming,” our separate accreditation is an “important distinction that helped launch a decade of growth in enrollment, fundraising and prestige.”
USF St. Petersburg provides too many unique opportunities to be pushed back to a time when we were just ‘another USF campus.’ There is, without a doubt, too much of a difference between our campuses to conceal our spotlight with consolidation.
In order to make a difference against the powerful hierarchy supporting this bill, we need students to speak up now.
I ask that you highlight the petition I started that opposes the statute consolidating our accreditation. One of the purposes of a student-run newspaper is to allow students to enter a dialogue as participants rather than spectators, and this petition will accomplish that. This petition gives students a chance to voice their concerns when no one asked for our opinions.
We students pour too much money from our empty pockets into this institution to not have any input.
Let’s continue USF St. Petersburg’s legacy.
A proud USFSP student
Header photo courtesy of Mariah McQueen