TAMPA - The bubbly group of USF students woke up at 4:30 am to catch the bus to Tallahassee. For some, like Daniel Hamilton, the four-hour drive was a chance to see the state capitol for the first time and represent the Bulls.
"I'm going to talk about how wonderful this school is and how awesome this school is," said Hamilton.
Most of the 75 USF students who went to Tallahassee on Tuesday were there to lobby for their own educational and financial futures.
State Lawmakers took $300 million out of the State University system last year. The students want that restored.
"The USF system got cut $50 million and we would like to see that money go back to the USF system. We'd also like to see an additional $118 million added to the higher education system so we can offset any tuition increases that are proposed," said Jeff Gao, Senate President of the Tampa campus.
The field trip is part of an ongoing lobbying effort called 'Aim Higher' that included a postcard-writing campaign earlier this year (see http://wfts.tv/T2JjCD ). Though USF tuition is lower than comparable schools nationally, the steady increases in tuition and the funding cuts that limit class options and research opportunities are taking a toll.
In politics, promises are hard to get and harder to count on. But USF students will keep working the system as stubbornly as ... bulls.
Just make sure you're writing your legislators. Make sure you're constantly staying up to date with what's going on. And if you see something that doesn't seem right you have every right to go out there and petition and try to change it," said student, Cha-kara Wimberly.
The students didn't meet with the Governor, but Rick Scott has called for more higher education funding along with a tuition freeze for next year.