(Illustration credit: Occupy Colleges)
Due to tuition hikes and proposed changes in college programs and curriculum initiated by Gov. Rick Scott recently, students from at least seven colleges in Florida plan protests this week against Scott's "relentless attack on higher education" in the state.
One was to be held today at the University Of South Florida, St. Petersburg as part of a nationwide student strike called for by Occupy Colleges, a protest group started by college students in California. The group called for the strike "in solidarity with UC Davis , UC Berkeley, CUNY Schools and all students who are defending their right to protest against rising tuition cost and out of control student debt" according to the group's website.
Other local groups involved are Occupy USF and SDS, Students for a Democratic Society, a modern day version of the student protest group from the 1960s.
The rallies, at the University of South Florida, USF St. Petersburg, University of Florida, University of Central Florida Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University and Florida State, are also meant to draw attention to 15 percent tuition hikes okayed by the Legislature a couple years ago, in addition to changes to the Bright Futures Scholarship Program.
Students from Occupy USF held a protest over tuition hikes in Nov. and also met with university administrators.
As part of a probe into college curriculum in relation to jobs, in Oct. Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to to the presidents of the 11 state universities requesting:
Job descriptions, total wages, number of courses instructed and "measurable goals" for the 50 highest-paid employees at each university for each of the past three years.
Costs and revenues per program from the past decade.
A list of the required classes for undergraduates.
The Gov. also provoked outrage when he questioned the value of students majoring in anthropology, despite the fact that one of his daughters was an anthropology major herself. At the time Scott said of anthropology majors, "We don't need them here." Scott instead wants to promote STEM — science, technology, engineering and math programs.
Those concerns, along with tuition hikes and student debt are the main focus of the protests for students who find themselves unable to keep up with the rising costs.
USF government professor Harry Vanden sees the anger rising on campuses across the country.
"This is a very bad situation for students everywhere," he said. "Student debt is higher than it's ever been. There are no jobs to speak of. These issues affect all of them across the country and it could unite them."
To make a bad situation even worse, there's Florida's high unemployment rates, massive layoffs, and additional cuts to education, thanks to Gov. Scott and the Florida legislature, who no doubt will slash even more in the upcoming legislative session next year.