USF student body president to lead talk-a-thon for student rights and immigration reform
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04/15/11 Seán Kinane
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USF student body president Cesar Hernandez.


photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

Some University of South Florida students are so upset about how lawmakers in Tallahassee and Washington are treating young people, they’re going to talk about it nonstop for more than three days. They don’t like cuts to education or policies that hurt immigrants. It’s being spearheaded by Cesar Hernandez, USF’s student body president who also serves on the university’s Board of Trustees.

One of their goals is for president Obama to notice their activism enough to come to USF to engage them in dialog.

Hernandez:

"Next Tuesday we are organizing, calling students to action to break the world record for the longest team speech ever done. And to put my money where my mouth is, I'm going to kick off the event by doing a 24 hour speech."

What will you be talking about?

"Exactly what I'm going to be talking about is the effects of just what's happening in our government. For me to even do justice that explains to you how I'm going to be formulating that it literally stems over the course of the year and my presidency and what I've seen in not just the state but also federally and in the world. As student body president I have the privelege of being able to represent the students. One thing I started noticing is what's going on with the state, with the legislature and, also, with some of the actions that the Governor has taken. Like, for instance, a $3.7 billion cut for all SUS universities. That's State University System. That means we're going to be cut money that can be going into education. Whereas you have other nations, like South Korea, they are investing, putting more money into education. Now you're cutting, you're hindering your future generation. So that's one thing."

"Another thing is, I just listened to the President's Fiscal Responsibility report where he's saying there might be a 25 percent cut in education and that we each have to sacrifice. I understand that we have to sacrifice, however, students are already paying loans, students already have it tough as it is. We never got no bailout. We didn't get a blank check. We're paying for it and how I believe, and if you even study Native Americans, ancient Native Americans, they believe in the children's fire. I don't know if you've heard of it. Maybe Tom McCartney, he always refers to this, and he says the children's fire is the center of their tribe. In order to sustain themselves, they have to put the new generation at it's core. Can you honestly say that corporations, and that the United States, puts their new generation at it's core of it's government?"

You also mentioned that you're opposed to some of the immigration bills that are happening in Tallahassee. Why is a student body president concerned about immigration bills and what concerns you?

"This is what concerns me. Not just as a student body president but as a member of the Millenial generation which is the generation that's going to inherit this great country. That is going to inherit the country, for the first time in history, in it's decline. Honestly, with a $10 trillion debt. The way it affects me is that, right now, immigration is a major issue in the United States. All we've been hearing is 'We're going to work on a reform for immigration. We're going to work towards these things.' I have the utmost respect for the President. He stated, when he was running for presidency, he was going to have a comprehensive immigration reform. Now, in his previous State of the Union in which he's going to run again for president, he briefly mentioned we're going to work on a comprehensive immigration reform bill. What have you been doing for the past three years?"

"How does this affect me? Because there are students in the State of Florida, that they have been here since the age of 3 or 4 years old. I even know them, personally. They've been here their entire lives. They graduate high school. I know of one person that graduated high school with a 6.2 GPA. Guess what? He finds out he's ineligible for scholarships, he's ineligible to receive in-state tuition and, beyond that, he can get deported. Just to give you an example, I have seen it. I've gone to Juarez, Mexico. In the ghettos, and I've talked to students in Juarez, Mexico that you would think they're Mexican and they're running around in the ghettos and, I don't know if you've ever been to Juarez, the worst city in the Western Hemisphere with burnt down apartments and burnt homes, it looks like a war zone. It is, it's a drug war zone. And where you would think 'look at all these Mexican children running around', and all of a sudden they start speaking to you in English. I'm like, 'You're speaking English?' they're like, 'Yeah, I'm from Alburquerque.' 'What are you doing here?' 'Well, my whole family got deported, what am I going to do?'"

"So imagine, now this is where it ties in. That's an American citizen, right? We just lost a generation. Not only that, now we have non-residents that consider themselves naturalized citizens that want to be here, want to contribute to America, especially in the State of Florida with the new Florida Initiative, technologies and all of these things they want to invest in; we need scholars to run technology. We don't have any scholars, we're losing a generation. We're losing a generation, who's going to run the country? And the United States is the foundation of the world? If the United States goes down it's going to be like the Roman civilization, we're going to enter the Dark Ages."

Previous WMNF news coverage on immigration

Student Advocates of Immigration and Millennial Generation Rights Speech

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