SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A fight for survival. New College of Florida officials and students making their voices heard and pushing back against a House plan that would merge the school into Florida State University.
“This is not a great idea,” said New College President Donal O’Shea.
Instead of books, students at New College held signs in between classes asking for one thing: to keep the school independent.
“If I’m going to thrive in Florida, I need to have the best people and those people are new college students and alumni,” said a student.
It’s part of a continuing fight, a fight that they didn’t ask for. A fight to survive.
“I’ll do everything I can to make sure that during this process we’re going to fight to keep New College the way it is,” said Steven Keshishin, who is a third year student.
He helped organize a rally on campus on Thursday afternoon because he doesn’t want to see his school, his fellow classmates, and professors affected by undesired changes.
“The students want to be independent; the community wants to be independent, and we should be allowed to be independent,” he said.
It all started as proposed bill, targeting New College and Florida Polytechnic University, which are two of the youngest members of Florida’s university system.
New College would become part of Florida State, while Florida Polytechnic would become part of the University of Florida. The sponsor of the bill, State Representative Randy Fine says the merge needs to be done to cut administrative costs that are too high. However, New College President O’Shea says that’s not true.
“The cost of merging the systems will be well over a million dollars or $2 million. It wouldn’t save any money it would cost more,” he said.
New College has 724 students and school officials say admissions are up 30 percent from last year. They’re looking into dropping costs in half by doubling enrollment. But that didn’t stop lawmakers in Tallahassee from passing this proposed bill in the House Education Committee on Wednesday. A move that school officials didn’t expect.
“We’re under one percent of the entire university system budget,” said O’Shea.
Some local lawmakers are standing behind the school.
“It’s absolutely zero sense for someone to come in and be judgmental in terms of this college and this region,” said Rep. Vern Buchanan.
“To support New College to remain independent,” said State Representative Margaret Good.
Now the fight continues. A fight students at New College say it’s not over until it’s over.
“We’re going to fight and hopefully it doesn’t get there," said Keshishin.
Congressman Vern Buchanan spoke on this matter with ABC7′s Bill Logan on ABC7 at 7, to watch the interview click here.