April 8, 2003 - Alligator Online: Indonesia RPCV Dick Kravitz sponsors Florida law to deny financial aid to students from Terrorist Nations

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: April 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: April 8, 2003 - Alligator Online: Indonesia RPCV Dick Kravitz sponsors Florida law to deny financial aid to students from Terrorist Nations

By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 9:53 am: Edit Post

Indonesia RPCV Dick Kravitz sponsors Florida law to deny financial aid to students from Terrorist Nations

Read and comment on this story from Alligator Online about Indonesia RPCV Dick Kravitz who is sponsoring a Florida law to deny financial aid to students from Terrorist Nations.

We interviewed Mr. Kravitz by phone to talk to him about his Peace Corps service and he told us that his service in the Peace Corps had been a wonderful experience; that his whole life has been opened up by the experience of living in a different culture; that he was in Indonesia 1 and that his group had gone to the White House to meet Kennedy before they departed for Indonesia; and that he remembers Indonesia fondly - "When you are there, the people open up to you - they become your family." Read the story at:

House endorses to withdraw aid*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

House endorses to withdraw aid

By Jon Custer
Alligator Writer

TALLAHASSEE — International students from countries listed as sponsors of terrorism would be denied financial assistance in Florida by a plan narrowly endorsed by the state House of Representatives on Monday.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dick Kravitz, R-Orange Park, passed the House Education Committee 13 to 10, despite critics who said it would send a message that Florida is unfriendly to international students.

Kravitz said he has received a flurry of e-mails from angry constituents since the bill passed through the Higher Education Subcommittee two weeks ago, but he said they misunderstood his motives.

“No one, least of all me, is denying anyone an education,” he said. “We just don’t like to get taken advantage of.”

Kravitz and the bill’s supporters characterized it primarily as a financial issue. Currently, 822 students from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Cuba, North Korea and the Sudan, which are listed as state sponsors of terrorism by the U.S. State Department, receive a total of $308,000 in financial assistance.

In a tight-budget year in which lawmakers are proposing tens of millions of dollars in cuts to universities and scholarship programs, Kravitz said the money should be redirected to help Florida residents.

Opponents who spoke against the bill included several students from FSU and Mark Schlakman, director of the FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, who said the financial savings would be negligible compared to the damage the bill would do to the world’s opinion of the United States and Florida.

“America is not at war with the people of these nations,” Schlakman said. “We are friends of those people.”

FSU history professor Max Freedman added that studying in the United States could counter the myths and misinformation those students receive in their home countries.

Kravitz pointed out that his plan only applies to students whose visas obligate them to return home when they graduate, but Freedman and other opponents countered these were exactly the students who should be learning about American culture, democracy and human rights.

“It is precisely because many of these students go home that our supporting them works to our advantage,” he said.

Freedman also cited comments from Secretary of State Colin Powell and President Bush praising international students for spreading democracy and American values abroad and listed foreign leaders who had studied in the United States, including Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, which the State Department listed as a terrorist country until his administration took over.

Hadia Mubarak, president of FSU’s Muslim Student Association, called the legislation discriminatory and pointed out that many of the international students who receive financial aid also work cheaply as student teachers and perform the research that attracts large federal grants.

“I don’t think we want to discriminate on the basis of national origin,” said Rep. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood. “These are the students who are going to go back and lead the revolution for America.”

But Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, questioned how much students would learn about American culture at universities, which he said were “hotbeds of liberalism.”

“It’s obscene that we continue to finance these terrorist countries,” he said, agreeing with Kravitz’s assertion that students from these countries are tightly controlled by their governments.

“This is not racism or bigotry,” said Kravitz, pointing out the time he spent living with a Muslim family in the Peace Corps.

“I learned a lot more from them than they learned from me,” he said. “My only regret is not getting to date any of their women.”

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Indonesia; War on Terrorism; Student Aid



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