Students plan to fight bill that proposes merging New College into FSU

New College would be merged with Florida State University and Florida Polytechnic University with the University of Florida. (Photo: Capitol News Service)

By: Lia Fernandez | WTSP 10 News
February 20, 2020

SARASOTA, Fla. (WTSP) -- A bill threatening the continued existence of New College is hanging like a dark cloud over the institution.

President Donal O'Shea took the fight to Tallahassee on Wednesday. O’Shea is urging lawmakers to reconsider the proposal to turn New College into a Florida State University campus and Florida Polytechnic into a University of Florida campus.

Students plan to fight the bill with O’Shea and make their voices heard today at a student planned rally.

On the Facebook event page created by student Alex Barbat, she wrote, “We called on the Education Committee to stop the NCF/FSU merger and although they heard us, they chose not to listen.”

“So, we are going to be even louder this time, by participating in a campus-wide rally," she said.

The “Save our School” rally is happening until 4:00 p.m. at the ACE Plaza on campus.

Sixty-three students say they’ll be there. They are expected to wear their New College merch and show they deserve to have a say in the future of their school.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Randy Fine, says the merge needs to be done to cut administrative costs that are too high. Fine says a lot of money can be saved by merging the schools, but O’Shea says that’s not true.

O’Shea said by rolling in with FSU he sees nine jobs that would be cut to the tune of $700,000 but says it would cost one to two million dollars to merge schools.

Fine says the lack of growth is another concern and reason behind the bill. He says enrollment numbers aren’t where they need to be.

“We have tried to help New College grow,” Fine said. “In fact, the legislature has funded over $10 million of member projects whose goal it was to help New College get bigger.”

Fine said their efforts didn’t work. He said the enrollment at New College continued to decline, but O’Shea says differently.

New College has 724 students and O’Shea says admissions are up 30 percent from last year. O’Shea says they are even on track for dropping costs in half by doubling enrollment.

New College wants to have 1,200 students by 2024-2025.

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