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Tallahassee Students Sit In at Florida Board of Governors Meeting

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

The Florida Board of Governors (BOG) is the body that oversees all public universities in the state. They make decisions on what practices the Florida State University System (SUS) should adopt and the Governor of Florida appoints the majority of the people who sit on the board.

On Monday, March 28, and Tuesday, March 29 the BOG hosted its last in-person meeting of the school year on the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) campus. Given the BOG’s responsibility in advising the SUS and the looming presence of House Bill 999 in the Florida Legislature, Florida State University (FSU) students joined forces with FAMU students to organize a series of demonstrations.

For context, House Bill 999 would defund diversity, equity and inclusion programs at schools in the SUS, prohibit the use of “equal opportunity employment clauses” on college campuses, and revise the set of criteria that constitutes post-tenure review for professors. It is a piece of legislation that would directly impact students, faculty and employees of universities.

On March 28, students began by gathering in Railroad Square to protest. There were more than 100 students in attendance and a variety of speakers from varying FSU, FAMU, and community organizations. Speakers included but were not limited to executive board members from each of FSU’s identity-based agencies, college democrat presidents, representatives from fraternities in the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Andrew Gothard (President of the United Faculty of Florida), and Nikki Fried (Chair of the Florida Democratic Party). 

Each speaker talked about how House Bill 999 would affect their respective communities and why students must push back against it. Speeches went on for approximately an hour and a half before the rain began and students marched to FAMU.

As previously mentioned, the BOG meeting took place on FAMU’s campus, so students began to march in the rain to campus chanting things like When students’ rights are under attack, what do we do? stand up fight back!” and “hey hey, ho ho, Ron DeSantis has got to go.

Upon arrival at FAMU, more students from the campus joined the group and speeches resumed. Students were outside of the student union protesting for about an hour before the rain picked up. Additionally, a group of approximately 10 students entered the BOG meeting and sat down with their fists raised in protest.

The following day, on March 29, similar demonstrations took place. Over 100 students gathered outside the student union chanting while over a dozen students entered the BOG meeting and silently protested. While the BOG did not directly discuss House Bill 999, they did discuss a post-tenure review revision that is similar to what is outlined in the bill.

Several students and members of the faculty union spoke in opposition to this revision to post-tenure review, in public comment, but the board ultimately voted in favor. Finally, the BOG meeting wrapped up at about 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday and students continued to chant Kill the bill outside as board members left the building.

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My name is Alexis Dorman and I am a second-year, honors student at Florida State University. I am pursuing a dual degree in International Affairs and Political Science, with minors in Chinese and Education. For the past 8 years, I've spent my time volunteering, participating in a variety of clubs and extracurricular activities, and making the most of my educational career. I am passionate about international affairs, political science, current events, and diplomacy. Aside from my academic interests I enjoy writing, art, music, and movies!