In September 2015, Polithon took its talents to the Sunshine State. We ran a polithon for the Florida Student Association (FSA) bringing together 24 student government representatives from 12 of the universities in the State University System in an effort to tackle the Florida’s perfect storm of a student debt crisis.
The goal: For FSA to come out of the event with a platform they will be able to advocate on with the support of Young Invincibles, which ran an advocacy training with the group in August.
Date: September 26-27, 2015
Location: Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL
Question: How can the state of Florida tackle the issue of student loan debt from a systemic perspective focusing on access to education including educational financing and loan reform, the mounting cost of higher education and state disinvestment, and the damage already done – reducing the long term burden of student debt including repayment?
Execution: FSA hired Polithon to run a polithon on September 26-27. We identified and brought in experts, drafted a briefing book on the issue, and staff flew to Tallahassee to run the polithon. FSA provided 23 participants who were part of their organization as well as space and meals. Polithon divided the group up into four teams and had experts brief the group the first morning before having each team separate into rooms to begin brainstorming. Experts circulated to keep the conversation flowing and answer questions, and by the end of the day, each team presented their ideas in outline format. On the second day, the teams all came together to take their ideas and piece them into a final platform outline. Because of limited time that day, some of that process was finished via Google Docs during the week following before it was passed on to experts for feedback. FSA then had the responsibility of finalizing it and using it for their advocacy efforts.
Outcome: FSA now has a platform developed by the majority of their members who represent tens of thousands of students, which they can push forward and see through to action. A state senator and a state representative have already expressed interest in hearing the students’ ideas and the Florida Board of Governors will also be considering their policy solutions. In a survey conducted following the event, over 70% of participants said that after the polithon, they felt motivated to participate in local advocacy, over 50% felt more willing to run for office someday, more informed on important political issues, more informed about the legislative process, and more optimistic that political change is possible. In addition, 19-20 respondents said they were moderately to very impressed by the process and outcome.
Testimonials from the Survey:
- “This was eye opening”
- “Learned…how to push for tangible change.”
- “Polithon is an incredible platform.”
- “Great resource and tool for students to become policymakers”
Florida Research Resources
- The cost of an FL university prepaid plan for newborns has increased 350% in the last 6 years.
- Florida state universities saw tuition rise rapidly until 2013.
- Florida has cut state funding for public universities by over $2,000 per student since ’08-’09. This amounts to a nearly 30% decline in state support for universities.
- Floridians leave hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid on the table annually due to low FASFA completion rates.
- How affordable is college in FL?
- Current Policy recommendations from Young Invincibles
If you want to get involved or help turn the solution into action, please get in touch!