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USF students and administrators continue to push for smaller budget cuts even after Senate pulls back.

1:42 AM, Feb 24, 2012   |    comments
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  • USF President Judy Genshaft addresses a crowd of reporters outside her office Thursday, Feb. 23.
  • A table full of Save USF posters and voting material for students is set up on campus.

Tampa, Fla. - Minutes after state senators agreed to lesser budget cuts for the University of South Florida, the campus responded with mixed emotions.

"I truly believe the way in which our Tampa Bay community responded was so incredibly positive for the University of South Florida," President Judy Genshaft told a crowd of reporters outside her office. "It made such a difference to the legislators."

A short time later across campus, students lined-up to write letters to those same legislators knowing the battle is not yet over.

"Why would they want to negatively impact our education? We are the future. Exactly. So, why don't you help us instead of hurting us?" asked USF sophomore Alexia Ruiz.

Ruiz is one of more than 1,000 students writing letters to Tallahassee - even after the Senate reduced cuts from 58 percent down to 26 percent of the University's revenue - still not a total victory.

"It is reality I guess. Again, I'm very pleased we've made such progress in the past week that we've been able to be on par with other universities," President Genshaft added.

While USF may now be on par with schools like UF and FSU, students here still want legislators to take a mulligan on these massive cuts. That's why the Student Government Association organized a rally Thursday night on campus.

"Students can probably anticipate a tuition increase, so our work doesn't stop here. We're still going to go to Tallahassee, deliver those messages, and push for higher education funding," said Student Body President Matt Diaz.

Still, there was reason to show some pride in Thursday's outcome.

"Everyone can see that we are not... Don't just take us lightly!" President Genshaft smiled. "We care about our institution. We care about our region, our students, and our economic recovery. I believe we will be treated fairly in the future."

Genshaft believes cuts to USF will be further reduced when House and Senate members meet in a conference committee to merge the budgets approved by each side.

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