Protests Greet Hitt’s 20th Anniversary at UCF; Photos InsideEconomy, News, Tuition, UCF Administration — By Staff on March 1, 2012 at 4:23 am Tweet
On the same day the University of Central Florida planned a celebration to honor its president’s 20th year on the job, outraged students planned a protest over the massive debt they’re racking up thanks to soaring tuition rates.
Although it appears the joint scheduling was a coincidence, supporters of UCF President John C. Hitt were walking up to his 20th anniversary party inside the Student Union while student protesters demonstrated outside that same building hosting Hitt’s afternoon reception.
Inside the Student Union, those attending Hitt’s reception had the opportunity to enjoy refreshments and be able to “create handwritten notes for the president and record a short congratulatory video,” according to the event’s website.
Outside the Student Union, students fed up with tuition hikes and debt had the chance to write their debt on the “Wall of Student Debt” and “share personal stories about their difficulties with student debt,” according to a press release sent by the Student Labor Action Project. The group also will invite people to discuss the looming tuition hikes UCF, the Board of Governors and the Florida Legislature have planned, the release states.
Doors opened for Hitt’s anniversary party event inside the Union at 1:30 p.m. while the protests were scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Both events were open to the public and students.
KnightNews.com sent a crew to the Union and found the two sides coexisted peacefully.
As for tuition costs, UCF told KnightNews.com that tuition rates have been increasing to “partially offset more than $100 million in state budget cuts that we have sustained since 2007.” Still, UCF has been ranked as one of the nation’s best-value universities and most affordable. Florida universities, on average, rank 45th in the country for the cost of tuition and fees — one of the cheapest.
KnightNews.com checked and found out Florida also ranks 45th in the country for unemployment rates — one of the worst in the country. Florida also ranks 39th for the lowest median annual income, according to a recent average.
Still, lawmakers and many university leaders across the state are pushing to hike Florida’s tuition to the national average of $8,244. Right now Florida’s average tuition costs $5,626.
Gov. Rick Scott, however, has said he doesn’t want any more tuition hikes for Florida right now.