Ban On Tobacco Smoke Now Includes Entire Campus

After six years of USF’s first tobacco ban, the university decided to spread the policy throughout the entire campus.

USF officials say the policy was made to incentivize people to stop smoking, not to punish them.

“USF Health had previously gone tobacco and smoke free in 2009 and the St. Pete and Sarasota Manatee campuses are also tobacco smoke free,” said USF Assistant Director of Communications Aaron Nichols.

“So, Tampa is the last campus in the system to make this change.”

In 2011 USF President Judy Genshaft created the Tobacco Use Task Force, which consisted in a group of students and employees helping promote the transition of smoke free campus.

“That’s what led to the change of 2012 to restrictive smoking to certain areas. At the time, they didn’t think that the campus community was ready to go totally smoke and tobacco free,” said Nichols.

“And, that’s given us a really good transition period to lead up to this. At the time, I think, there was a lot shock at the policy and now it’s been well received.”

USF students have expressed mixed feelings about this new policy that starts next year which eliminates all 24 designated smoking areas.

“I think it benefits the environment and it also bothers some people because of the smell,” said USF student Nick Ramos. “I know whenever I walk by, I just like to keep my distance because the smell bothers me.”

USF student Ibrahim Aldairem says although the policy will be active next semester, many students have mentioned that they will continue smoking.

USF officials say the new policy will not be enforced by the campus police. They are hoping for peer enforcement.


Hard work pays off for USF researcher

Emmanuel Smith did not plan to become a postdoctoral researcher at the University of South Florida (USF) during his undergraduate years. It took him four years to finish a two-year degree.

For fun, Smith asks people to guess his GPA when he was in college.

“I always tell them that it was extremely low and I tell them to shoot for as low as they can,” he said. “They always tend to put two extra points on top. My GPA after two years of community college was 0.69.”

When he was 22 years old, he said he had no idea what he wanted in life.

“Going out and drinking every night tends to be repetitive,” Smith said. “At the moment you might think you are having the best time of your life, but after you do it a bunch of times, you realize the experience doesn’t change. It’s just the same experience over and over again.”

Thanks to an undergraduate teacher, Smith pursued biochemistry and decided to go back to school, where he graduated with a 3.9 GPA.

“I wanted to feel good about what I was doing, so that led me going back to school and trying really hard,” Smith said. “It felt really good succeeding in my classes, and eventually that led to the path that decided to be a biologist.”

Colleagues at the USF lab said Smith is a hard worker and always motivates the team.

“Just his love of science, just the love of doing what he does, you can tell that he is passionate about the work that’s done here,” Derek Nichols said. “And, the work that he is looking forward to doing in the future.”

Emmanuel Smith surpassed his own expectations. He tells students if you want to succeed, you need to work hard now.

USF students “walk a mile” for awareness of domestic violence

USF’s eighth Walk a Mile in Her Shoes gathered men and women from the University of South Florida in support to end domestic violence.

On Thursday Oct. 15 in the Marshall Student Center amphitheater, men exchanged their shoes for a pair of high heels to support the cause.

The event was sponsored by the Center for Victim Advocacy, the Relationship Equality and Anti-violence League (R.E.A.L), and the organization Network. Improve. Transfer. Empower. (N.I.T.E). Organizers said many people don’t think domestic violence can happen in their community, so this event brings it home.

“We are not only making a stand against a very serious topic, but we are making it fun and we are kind of celebrating that we are all here and challenging our campus and our surrounding community,” N.I.T.E President Kendyl Muehlenbein said.

The  concept of this event is that you cannot understand what a woman is going through unless you walk a mile in her shoes.

“Although it’s a serious topic, we can still add positivism,” USF student Taurean Wong said.

“I think this is an event that really lendss itself to allow men to take accountability and really step up to the plate,” Wong said. “Hey, it’s on us to spread the word, to keep other men accountable and let women know that we are in this together.”

Many of the participants struggled while walking the mile in heels.

“It’s a huge challenge. I don’t have any feet anymore, I don’t know what feet are,” USF Victim Advocacy Staff Val Nicktouloute said. “That’s how bad it hurt and I don’t know how you girls do it. You girls dance on them, that’s amazing for me and I don’t know how you guys do that.”

Nicktouloute was amazed how others felt comfortable walking in heels.

“Other guys were running, I don’t know how they did that,” Nicktouloute said. “I think I saw one of the athletes, I don’t know what sport he was playing, but he was running. Hey more power to you.”

After the march, all participants received a diploma in recognition of their efforts.


Company bridges gap between disabled people and employers

Randolph Link is no longer dealing with depression alone, he found The Diversity Initiative (TDI) and together they work on his confidence.

With several locations throughout the Tampa Bay area, TDI helps hundreds of people every year.

“Here it was very directed, they helped me with my resume, beef up my resume,” TDI client Randolph Link said. “And, they pointed me in the direction of companies that were really tailored made and suited for me. That’s why it was really good.”

Link recently closed his case successfully and now works from home in customer service.

“The ambition that a person has really dictates how well they are going to do, and I came in with a lot of ambition,” Link said. “And, they really helped me just by being there for me and helping me with my disabilities.”

TDI employment consultants work directly with their clients, helping them find a job.

“At least once a week, we have to coach them at work, we have to teach them how to be working, teach them how to wake up in the morning and take a shower and get up and go to work,” TDI Employment Consultant Margarita Rosario said.

According to Wallethub’s study, Tampa is ranked in the Top 10 for best cities for people with disabilities.

The process with a client at TDI consists of multiple professional workshops and educational programs.

“We can be working with them forever, or we can be working with them for two years,” Rosario said. “And, sometimes when they feel really comfortable they can be by themselves.”

This local organization financially secures its clients.

“So, it’s a good feeling to work and become tired from work, rather than just being tired because I’m depressed all the time,” Link said.

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