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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Dearest UF,

It's been too long. I should have called. Someone told me you lost weight - good for you. I hope life has given you all you expected. How's Tebow? Don't worry, I'm not pregnant or anything. I'm not writing to ask for money. It's quite the opposite, really.People have been talking, UF, and the word on the street is that you've landed on hard times. I want to help. Listen, you might not be "in love" with me anymore, but my heart can never forget you. And, as one of your students and soon-to-be alumnus too, I can stay silent no longer.Your lifestyle comes with a high cost, I know. It's hard out here for a top public institution that charges so little. You try to be everything to everyone, and no one appreciates you for you, UF.

With everybody trying to go off and be a part of The Gator Nation, they seemed to have forgotten about you at home in Gainesville.

First, you should bank on this tech-fee thing happening. I think it would be good for you.

A Senate bill proposed last week would allow your Board of Trustees to charge up to a 5 percent technology fee. I'm excited, but we should keep patient. The bill has to be approved by the Senate, the House, the governor and then your students through a referendum.The fee would cost in-state, undergraduate students a scant $3 per credit hour, but it would generate $7 million for you.I've always encouraged you to realize your dream of Wi-Fi expansion. And I know how much computer labs mean to you. I can recall too many a sleepless night when you worried about projectors functioning properly in classrooms. Technology doesn't grow on trees (except maybe for Apple computers).

Next, a faculty committee for your College of Liberal Arts and Sciences said last week the college would be unable to make the 6 percent - or $3 million - budget cut asked by President Bernie Machen.

But please don't be so hard on it. Remember, UF, honey: Faculty members don't grow on trees either - no matter how environmentally conscious they are.Now don't get worried, baby. (Yeah, I called you "baby." I'm not going to hide how I feel for you. Deal with it.)

You don't need the Legislature. We can do this. Stop cutting your funds. Everyone loves you. They'll pay more if only you would ask. About 27,000 people wanted you this year and look how many were turned away. You did the whole $10-per-transcript thing, and I'm proud of you, but you need to step up your game. Get brave, UF. You're worth the extra cost.

I know you're worried that if you start charging more, students won't come. Bright Futures wouldn't cover tuition increases like these, so students will have to pay out of pocket.They'll say things like: "Hey, man, money doesn't grow on trees. It grows in my parents' pockets."

But I bet everyone would take a little personal expense over a whole lotta cuts - in departments and in rankings. You have to start standing up for yourself.

It doesn't matter how bright "Bright Futures" is. You, UF, are the reason why students choose to stay in Florida. Without financial hold, VincentP.S. I still have your old logo, but I'm not giving it back.

Vincent Massaro is a journalism senior. His column appears on Mondays.

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