USF students protest budget cut plan

04/22/08 Seán Kinane
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Today at the University of South Florida Tampa campus, more than 200 students marched to stop what they fear will be the consolidation of small departments.

Students and faculty from Africana Studies, Women’s Studies and other departments ended their march by cramming into a breezeway of the Administration Building. There they asked heated questions for over an hour of Ralph Wilcox, who is USF’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

After a rally on the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, the students marched to Cooper Hall to meet another large group of students who joined them in their march to the administration building.

Provost Wilcox said the university is facing millions of dollars of budget cuts, but he tried to assure the students that their departments were not being cut. Wilcox said no final decisions on budget cuts have made and they will not be until after the university receives its budget numbers from the state Legislature.

Former Sen. Les Miller, who is director of Community Relations at USF, declined to be interviewed for this story.

Deborah Plant is the chair of the Africana Studies Department, the director of the Graduate Program and the department’s undergraduate advisor. She said that if the university is looking for efficiency, then her department is a perfect example already. She isn’t impressed by Provost Wilcox’s promise that Africana Studies will remain a department.

Last summer, USF’s Faculty Senate recommended to the former provost that the university make “strategic” cuts rather than across-the-board cuts that would affect all academic units. Among the concerns the committee pointed to is the size of the programs.

Kim Vaz, chair of the Department of Women’s Studies, said it is important that the rally was organized by students.

Photo credit: Seán Kinane/WMNF

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Previous USF coverage

Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean

Women’s Studies Department

Africana Studies Department

University of South Florida

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