TALLAHASSEE — As Florida State University (FSU) President John Thrasher delivered his annual State of the University address Wednesday, Dec. 7, he spoke about the standard topics one would expect — national rankings, fundraising, faculty – but mixed into his comments were more controversial issues affecting university campuses across the country.
Following comments about the university’s rise in the national rankings, he recognized the faculty for their part in the recent ascent and announced he is seeking $70 million from the Florida Legislature to hire more faculty. He then pivoted to two politically charged issues –Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and allowing guns on campus.
Thrasher has joined 500 other university presidents in signing a petition calling for President-Elect Donald Trump to keep DACA, which allows undocumented students who arrived in this country as children to be spared from deportation and makes them eligible for two-year renewable work permits.
Read petition here.
In Florida universities, DACA has an even greater impact, often enabling these children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition.
In 2014, Florida enacted legislation that extends in-state tuition to U.S. citizen students who are dependents of illegal immigrants. With DACA, that benefit is extended to non-U.S citizens. According to FSU’s admissions office, “The Office of Admissions actively works to provide (out-of-state tuition) waivers to known DACA students and those foreign nationals who do not indicate their legal status on the application for admission.”
The petition, started by the Pomona College in California, says President Obama’s DACA program should be “upheld, continued and expanded.”
It continues, “They (the DACA students) represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.”
Thrasher said in his annual comments about signing the petition, “I think it’s the right thing to do, and it will help these students — who are already here — find a path toward a better future. We also will try to facilitate legal resources and provide other services for these students.”
Guns on Campus
Thrasher also spoke briefly about his opposition to guns being allowed on campus.
He said the Florida legislature is again considering a bill that would allow people to carry guns on college campuses.
“I have opposed this bill since it first surfaced in 2011, and I am still opposed to it,” Thrasher said.
“Law enforcement officials, including our own police department, other university presidents and members of the state university system are in agreement that having more guns on college campuses does not make them safer,” he said.
His opposition remains despite the 2014 shooting at FSU’s Strozier Library and Leon County being ranked for the last two consecutive years first for violent crime in Florida.