University Town: Taxpayer Money for Public & Private Facilities

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Dr. Selina Darling-Reed is huddled in her lab, hard at work at preventing a very deadly disease.

Dr. Selina Darling-Reed from the FAMU College of Pharmacy says, "By eating more garlic, then the patient will be more likely to prevent breast cancer."

Darling-Reed says garlic has an organic compound that repairs the damaged DNA that causes cancerous cells to multiply.

This work could save countless lives, but it's certainly not cheap. Darling-Reed's team is funded by a $500,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health. The money goes toward materials, staff salaries and even electricity.

FAMU acknowledges that public money is used in its research facilities, and while they're primarily for work only, the public is invited to watch if they want to.

Over at Tallahassee Community College, students have a place to study and meet with a tutor.

TCC officials point out that The Learning Commons is not a library, but an innovative center catering to any educational need, helping students succeed in virtually any class on campus.

TCC Academic Support Programs Dean Sally Search says, "It is providing a tremendous resource and support for students to enhance and advance their learning."

The center is funded by tuition dollars and state money. Officials would like to open it to the public, but if they did they say they could not properly serve the students, thus hurting the mission of the center.

But there are other publicly funded facilities the public can access. Non-students can use the libraries at FAMU, TCC and FSU.

Florida State restricts non-students in the libraries late at night for security reasons.

But there are several places on campus where the public cannot go, like some of the research labs.

FSU Associate V.P. for Research Ross Ellington says, "Some facilities are restricted in terms of access because of the nature of what is going on. Not because it's secret, but just because it's potentially very dangerous."

FSU's athletic training facility is not for use by the public either. It is only reserved for student athletes and athletics staff.

But the public can still see what goes on in these facilities. Research facilities like FSU's Magnet Lab hold open houses.

And, of course, you can watch the student athletes themselves to see if their workouts paid off.

Most of the information we provided for you in this series was done through public records requests. Anyone in Florida can make such requests to any public agency and you don't have to give a reason. Contact any state agency to find out more.

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