Friday, January 28, 2011

Student Power!

Here are 2 articles about the "Students for a Democratic Society" of Florida.

2011-01-20 "Student activism responsible for stalling tuition overhaul" by Dave Schneider from "The Independent Florida Alligator" newspaper

Dave Schneider is a Progress Party senator and member of Students for Democratic Society
There’s a reason we don’t celebrate Lyndon Johnson Day. This past Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I spent a lot of time thinking about the civil rights movement.
In the face of repression by segregationists and lethargic responses by the federal government, black people and a multiracial coalition of allies courageously marched, rallied and took direct action to bring national attention to the horrors of racism. Their heroic struggle forced lawmakers, like President Johnson, to advocate equal rights for all.
Right now, higher education is under assault around the globe, and Gainesville is no exception.
When the administration announced in November that they wanted to implement a block tuition system — in which every full-time undergraduate student would pay a flat rate for 15 credit hours, regardless of how many he or she actually takes — students became outraged. Because the proposal would harm working students and hinder participation in extracurricular activities, they decided to stand up and organize a resistance.
Since the spring semester started, I’ve heard a lot about Student Body President Ashton Charles voting against block tuition at the December Board of Trustees meeting. I haven’t heard enough about the flurry of Facebook groups created to oppose block tuition. I haven’t heard enough about the students who pressed the administration to answer hard questions at several town hall meetings last fall. I haven’t heard enough about the thousands of students who signed petitions against the administration’s plan. And I haven’t heard enough about the largest and most direct resistance to block tuition — the three rallies attended by hundreds of students, organized by Students for a Democratic Society and the students from instructor Meggan Jordan’s Social Problems class.
On the same day the Trustees approved block tuition, students rallied together to directly voice their opposition. Several of us met with and addressed members of the board, and we successfully pushed block tuition’s implementation back to fall 2012. I’m not saying Charles didn’t make the right choice in opposing block tuition at the Board of Trustees meeting. She did. I’m saying I don’t think she would have if not for the mass student resistance to block tuition across campus.
If we’re going to stop block tuition once and for all, we need to remember a central lesson of the civil rights movement: Change doesn’t come from the top.
Provost Joe Glover won’t wake up one day with an epiphany that block tuition is bad for students.
Student Government officials alone won’t stop the attack on working students. If we stop block tuition — and I pray we do — it’s the students alone whom we have to thank.

2011-01-06 "Homeless advocates hand out food to dozens" by Chad Smith from "Gainesville Sun" of Florida
A coalition of advocates for the needy handed out plates of spaghetti, rice, beans, rolls and fruit to dozens of homeless and hungry people on Gainesville's downtown plaza on Thursday evening before walking across the street to City Hall to again ask commissioners to repeal a limit on how many meals soup kitchens can serve.
The Coalition to End the Meal Limit Now — a group of advocates and members representing Students for a Democratic Society, the Civic Media Center, the International Socialist Organization and others — formed in recent months with one goal: getting the meal limit on the St. Francis House repealed.
Per an 18-year-old ordinance that was until recently not enforced, the soup kitchen and shelter at 413 S. Main St. is restricted from serving more than 130 meals a day.
Because the limit doesn't apply to churches or the Salvation Army, St. Francis House is virtually the only organization impacted by the law.
"They want to feed everyone who's there, but they're afraid they're going to lose their permit," Joe Cenker, a 28-year-old member of the coalition, said in an interview on the plaza. "The simplest, easiest solution is just to feed everybody who shows up."
Dozens of people showed up to the plaza at about 5 p.m. in hopes of getting food.
A man who would only identify himself as Jeff S. said he wasn't aware of the reason the coalition was providing the food but agreed that the limit should be lifted.
Jeff, who said he is 57 and has been living in the woods for about four years, said he has been turned away from St. Francis House several times.
Now, clients come early to get in line to be sure they aren't No. 131.
"If you're not one of the first ones lined up, there's no sense in even going," he said.
Katie Walters, a coalition member, told the City Commission she heard a similar story Thursday.
"Luckily, on the Bo Diddley Plaza we were able to serve him," Walters said.
Commissioner Jeanna Mastrodicasa explained that the ordinance was put in place before any of the current commissioners were elected and the St. Francis House itself, on its application for a permit, had listed 130 meals as the daily maximum.
Mastrodicasa said the reason for the 130-meal restriction and other policies involving soup kitchens is to distribute the homeless population in the community so it isn't concentrated downtown.
"What we're trying to do is spread it out," she said. "That's our goal."
Cenker, though, said the coalition is going to keep pressure on the commission until the ordinance is changed.
He added that the group is contacting the American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild about a possible lawsuit.
"We're trying to determine if the ordinance is unconstitutional or what angle we can go at it from," he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment