Sexual Assault Silence

The University of South Florida launched the annual “It’s On Us” campaign this month, which calls for students to stand up against sexual violence on college campuses through events like taking a pledge and the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

The campaign comes hard on the heels of a recent sexual assault that occurred on USF’s campus. The university received national attention when a member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity was accused of sexually assaulting a young woman at a party.

Although one of the tools of the national “It’s On Us” campaign is to talk to your friends honestly and openly about sexual assault, many students at the university were unwilling to speak about sexual assaults on college campuses.

“It happened within Greek, yet it also could happen anywhere, for any other person who is not involved in an organization. But I think they should be talking about it,” said USF and Greek alumna Savannah Skuthan. “If it’s ‘on you,’ why aren’t you doing anything about it?”

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, approximately 23.1 percent of females and 5.4 percent of males will be the victim of sexual assault during their undergraduate career.

“I think people get worried about whether [reporting sexual assault] is going to be anonymous, whether they feel like they’re betraying someone,” said USF student Liz Stafford.

Conversations around sexual assault share this sentiment, as shown by a RAINN study in which 10 percent of college-aged females and 14 percent of college-aged males did not want to report a sexual assault fearing the alleged perpetrator would get in trouble.

 

 

 

Brandon Ice Rink Helps Students Learn to Skate

The Tampa Bay Lightning made a terrific run to the Stanley Cup semifinals last hockey season, which has recently prompted an increased interest in ice skating and hockey in the Tampa Bay area.

One of the few ice skating rinks in Tampa is located in Brandon, where the Lightning practice and visit quite often. The Brandon Ice Sports Forum houses a highly qualified staff and hosts many students who have attended the rink for years.

“My favorite thing about skating is how beautiful of a sport it is and how free it makes you feel,” current student Isabella Ramirez said. “It teaches you a lot of life lessons like to always get up when you fall down.”

Courtney O’Connor, a former student turned coach, is one of the main coaches at the rink. O’Connor works six days a week making sure her students receive the best training.

“I get to share the love that I have for ice skating with my students,” O’Connor said. “It’s really nice to be able to see them out there on the ice, skating, having a smile on their face and having that enjoyment.”

O’Connor has been coaching for four years and has plans to keep coaching for as long as she can. She has also been skating since she was three.

The Brandon Ice Sports Forum works closely with each student through private lessons and other skating classes. One of the most popular skating classes the ice rink offers is “Learn to Skate.” This class gives children and even adults the opportunity to learn skills that ice skaters and hockey players acquire through years of training.

To sign up for “Learn to Skate” or any other classes with the Brandon Ice Sports Forum, please visit http://www.theicesportsforum.com/.

USF Football Struggles to Attract Student Fans

The USF Football team is 6-1, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking in the stands.

After a massive showing by the students against FSU, the football team has been left with little fan support in the student section. The 11,000 student representatives who made the commute to Raymond James Stadium for the FSU game devolved into a crowd of 2,000 two weeks later for a homecoming week matchup against East Carolina.

“I was extremely disappointed in that game,” Student Bulls Club President Hailey Piana said. “When you ask around, when you put on Facebook ‘Hey, where are y’all at?’ people say ‘Oh, well it’s a noon game, it’s hot.’ It’s all these excuses.”

In fact, Facebook class pages have been rife with arguments revolving around attendance for USF football games. There are many students who feel the football team deserves better attendance, and have been unafraid to let their peers know.

None of it has changed the attendance numbers, however, as the student attendance for the following week tallied 3,000 students.

Longtime fan and USF alumni Collin Sherwin weighed in, saying that the football culture of USF simply fell off following a memorable 2007 season.

“USF was the No. 2 team in the country at the time and it just sort of took off and became part of this campus. What happened from the early part from this decade, forward, was a lot of that enthusiasm for this program just fell off. That’s got to change for USF to get where it wants to go [as a program].”

The Office of Veteran Success Lends a Helping Hand

The University of South Florida was just named the best 4-year college in the nation for veterans.

USF’s Office of Veteran Success serves over 1500 student vets. Some of the programs that they offer are vet-to-vet tutoring, mentoring, success classes, VA work-studies and community networking events. The purpose of each program is to provide veterans with the necessary skills to succeed.

The office also works with USF staff members to help veterans transition back into school. Staff members can attend the “Got Your Six” workshop, which teaches them how to become better resources for student veterans.

Daniel McNeill is the office manager for the Office of Veterans Success. He says that the program is an overview of common stereotypes, strengths, weaknesses and ways to help veterans adapt back into academia.

“We created this presentation to educate USF faculty and staff to allow our veterans to transition more easily,” said McNeill.

McNeill also said that one thing he hopes that staff members take away from “Got Your Six” is that the transition phase isn’t something to take lightly. Student veterans are making drastic life changes, and they need support from faculty during this time.

Dr. Laura Anderson, a chemistry professor at USF, attended “Got Your Six” because she wanted to learn different ways to help student veterans in her classes.

Student veteran, Victor Perez, served in the Navy and is transitioning back into school. He says that the office has really helped him get back into the school mindset.

“The office of Veteran Success has taught me about all of the benefits that I could be eligible for… especially vet-to-vet tutoring [and] mentoring,” said Perez.

A Unique Haunted House in the Tampa Bay Area

Chamber of Terror is a haunted house located near Channelside in the port of Tampa Bay. What makes it so unique is that it’s aboard the S.S. Victory World War II Ship. The creator, Courtney McIntyre, has made a nautical haunted ship, where there are only five in the United States.

The Chamber of Terror is a walk-through, 30 minute haunted house with four levels and 50 actors, which guarantees you to get scared. Unlike the usual theme park haunted houses, Chamber of Terror is more intimate, letting in up to six people at a time.

“You’re not looking down the hallway and seeing 100 people in front of you end up getting scared and then you end up not getting scared,” McIntyre said.

McIntyre first gained attention from the ship’s director at his haunted house last year in South Tampa. The director loved what he created and asked if he would like to create a haunted attraction aboard the S.S. Victory.

“Basically since November of last year we’ve been planning on doing it here,” McIntyre said, “Everybody seems excited it’s really unique, nothing you can get like this in Florida.”

Guests lined up to walk through the scary ship. Pamala Jones was very impressed by the theme and how it was different from the typical haunted houses.

“I’m from up north and we’ve got really good haunted houses,” Jones said, “This is great; it was very scary.”

Chamber of Terror is open every weekend night for the month of October. On Thursday Oct. 20th they will give five dollars off admission with a valid student ID.

Practice More Self-Love

ZenChristian Mott is a unique college student. She runs a very successful blog that is catered to assist incoming female students, called http://www.peacencurlz.com/.

At the age of 20, this University of South Florida student is a mentor, yoga instructor, author, blogger and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor.

“It is kind of for everybody. It’s a personal and natural hair blog,” Mott said. She describes the blog additionally by saying it is for, “women in the college lifestyle, love at being 20 and being young in this generation”.

Mott is a junior. She is also a double major in English and psychology. She is focusing on psychology as it pertains to childhood trauma. The blog began as an assignment for her creative writing class.

Subscriber Brittney Ball follows http://www.peacencurlz.com/ regularly and particularly enjoyed Mott’s posts. When asked what about Mott made her subscribe, Ball said, “Zen’s a junior, so she’s spent a little time in college and understands the difficulties and I think she has a nice perspective”.

Mott is passionate and wants to help people. She is careful to say that the website has no racial preference. When asked what incoming freshman could stand to gain from her blog, Mott responded, “practice self-love more.”

 

Drawing inspiration from art

What do you want to do before you die? Is a question that one public art project is asking people daily.

Located in Downtown Tampa, the Before I Die Wall stands on Tampa’s Riverwalk serving as a means of expression for those in the Bay Area due to the work of Leadership Tampa Bay’s Class of 2016. A program that teaches those involved how to become more involved and better stewards for their communities.

According to Todd Edwards, a Leadership Tampa Bay 2016 class member, this project came to life by an artist named Candy Chang as a coping mechanism for her depression, though to her surprise it gained the attention of others. Now years later that wall she created for herself has produced 1,000 boards that have spanned 70 countries and 36 languages giving countless people the gift of personal expression.

“To be able to express oneself in a public forum, without being judged, you can’t put a price on that,” said Edwards.

Which is an idea that Dawn Federspiel, a woman who visits the wall almost every day understands and enjoys. Sitting along the wall for hours Federspiel creates and re-creates others words by smudging the chalk into beautiful messages and images.

“Life is a value. Love is a value. People are a value,” said Federspiel. “So this is why I come out here and do this, just to be an inspiration”

Federspiel uses the wall not only to inspire but to also help her cope with her own past.

“Let me tell you it’s been a long journey, okay,” said Federspiel.

The Before I Die Wall can be visited at any time and will stay downtown until January 2017 when it will be relocated to a permanent location at Tampa’s Armature Works.

Skateboarders Excited For Bro Bowl 2.0 Opening

 

After years of hard work and dedication, Bro Bowl 2.0 in downtown Tampa opened on April 16.

The skatepark is a recreation of the 1979 Bro Bowl in Tampa. City officials had plans to demolish the skatepark and rebuild Perry Harvey Sr. Park.

Shannon Bruffett, the director of The Skateboarding Heritage Foundation, was involved in the effort to save the skatepark.

“I grew up skating here for almost thirty years. (I’m a) Tampa native, so it means a lot to me and the history of Tampa and skateboarding in Tampa,” Bruffett said. “I wanted this to be acknowledged just as much as the rest of Central Avenue’s history, since it played a role in it.”

The skatepark was developed for beginning and advanced skateboarders alike to have a safe place to skate.

Organizations like Boards for Bros support skateboarding in the community and help people who are not able to purchase a board.

“We target unserviced youth and we make sure they can have whatever they need to have to skateboard,” Michelle Box, the executive director for Boards for Bros, said. “So, we supply them with skateboards, experiences at the skatepark of Tampa, lessons, peer mentoring and things like that.”

The skatepark not only attracts people interested in the hobby, but it also gives them the opportunity to express their love for skateboarding.

“Skateboarding has always been a part of this city as long as it’s been around, and hopefully it will (continue for) generations to come,” Bruffett said.

Zumba helps Tampa residents get active

According to the Presidents Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, 28 percent of Americans aged six and older are physically inactive.

Every Tuesday, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is the site of an active, free fitness opportunity, known as Zumba In The Park, which is open to the public.

Zumba combines music with dance moves to create fitness routines that incorporate both interval and resistance training for a full-body workout.

Less than a month away from the end of daylight saving time, local participants are taking full advantage of the sunlight before the program ends.

Stacey Komanowski enjoys the outdoor aspect of the program; the Tampa skyline and Riverwalk.

Komanowski introduced her long-time friend, Lynn Trujillo, to Zumba In The Park.

“I absolutely loved being outside and getting a little exercise and fresh air,” Trujillo said.

Currently, there are over 200,000 Zumba class locations worldwide.

Meagan Simmons has been instructing Zumba for four years, starting out in Phoenix, Arizona before moving to Tampa.

Simmons was previously a professional hip-hop dancer but after an injury, she began participating in Zumba. After her first Zumba session, she was asked whether she was an instructor, which led her to become one.

“You know, the best part about being a Zumba instructor is just being able to inspire people every day,” Simmons said.

Simmons also thanks Zumba for allowing her to develop as a leader, saying that it is something that she has struggled with her whole life.

“Being out in the front of everyone, being able to talk, act crazy, dance… has really opened me up in a positive way.”

Cheerleading Alumni Back on the Field

University of South Florida alumni cheerleaders were welcomed back on the field during the homecoming football game against University of Connecticut.

“Homecoming’s really fun,” said Sandy Clarke, the USF All-Girl Cheerleading head coach. “It’s that time of year where everybody kind of comes back.”

As alumni, the former cheerleaders had the opportunity to come back to Raymond James Stadium and cheer among the current USF cheerleaders during the pregame show.

“I definitely miss being on the field though and it was cool getting to be on the field for just pregame,” said Sara Blaylock, former USF cheerleading captain.

Being back on the field wasn’t the only upside to homecoming, however. Some of the alumni cheerleaders were seeing each other for the first time in years. Head coach Clarke remembers how special the reunions were when she was on the team.

“I remember when I was on the team looking at the alumni that would come back to practices and thinking, ‘oh that’s so cool, they’re so genuinely excited to see their old teammates,’” said Clarke.

Blaylock describes the relationships made while on the USF cheerleading team as unforgettable. In fact, Clarke, Blaylock, and Jessica White, another USF cheerleading alumna, said that the friendships were some of their favorite things about being a USF cheerleader.

“They’re just lifelong friendships,” said Clarke. “It’s very fun.”

Clarke mentioned growth as being another one of her favorite things about the program. Since becoming a part of the program in 2002, Clarke has seen it evolve over the years. Blaylock even noticed growth in her four years on the team.

“I think it’s just growing into something really good,” said Blaylock.

The USF football team ended homecoming week with a 42-27 win over UConn. The Bulls will travel to Philadelphia next weekend to face Temple for their fourth conference game.

Bulls for Kids Pumpkin Day Benefiting John Hopkin’s All Children’s Hospital

 

The University of South Florida organization Bulls For Kids has begun their fundraising efforts in order to benefit John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital by hosting seasonal events on campus.

Appropriately named after the 1966 Charlie Brown televised special, The Great Pumpkin Day invited students to purchase a pumpkin, promising that one hundred percent of all the proceeds will go directly to the hospital.

“John Hopkin’s All Children’s Hospital is local, and it feels good knowing that you are helping out an organization that is really close by.” said USF student Jayla Pugh.

Bulls for Kids is part of USF’s Dance Marathon, a movement  of student-run philanthropies benefiting Children’s Miracle Network hospitals around the country. Bulls for Kids is the largest student run philanthropy on campus.

The Bulls for Kids Promotions Director, Clarisse Fres, provided activities that students could participate in with their pumpkin.

“You can decorate them with paint and these other art supplies. Or you can take it home and do whatever you want to do with the pumpkin,” Fres said.

With waivers signed and safety goggles worn, students were also given the option to smash their pumpkins by raising it above their heads, and launching it towards the ground. Pumpkin smashing was offered as a way for students to relieve stress.

All these smaller events are leading to the main Bulls for Kids event in the spring: the 12-hour Dance Marathon, which is where most of the donations come in.

According to leadandserve.usf.edu, Bulls for Kids broke its long-standing record at USF last year by raising $130,011.29 more than any other year before and an 82% increase from the 2015 marathon.

“It’s a year-long process,” Fres said. “Now that this year is around, we’re going to try and raise $200,000.”

Bulls For Kids has no doubt that they will reach this goal, especially with registration for the Dance Marathon already accepting teams and donations.

The Dance Marathon officially begins on Feb. 25, 2017. Registration ends Dec. 11, and donations are being accepted until 9 p.m. at the event.

Bulls Get Fit For A Good Cause

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and students at the University of South Florida are making sure they are actively staying involved.

The USF Campus Recreation center hosts an event called Bulls Fitsgiving. It allows students to team up and compete in obstacle courses not only for fun but also to give back to others in need.

Brandon Miller, a fitness coordinator at USF, wants students to realize how important events like this are to the community.

“We want to make sure that they know this is more than just about them,” said Miller. “We want to make sure they are making an impact globally, making a really holistic student out of what they are doing here.”

As an incentive to give back, students are asked to bring canned food, clothing or hygiene items that will be donated to local charity. If they do so then five seconds will be taken off their team’s total run time.

Dominique Richardson is a fitness coordinator at USF and she is the one who has planned and coordinated the event for the last three years.

“I think people are definitely excited,” said Richardson “It’s a good way to take a break from finals that are coming up. It’s a good time to get fit and have fun.”

The event was completely sold out and fourteen teams participated in Bulls Fitsgiving.

Honoring Veterans in Zephyrhills

Zephyrhills’ annual Veteran’s Day parade took place this Saturday. Roughly two hundred people showed up to support the veterans and show their appreciation.

After the National Anthem was sung and the Pledge of Allegiance was said, the parade participants began making their way down Fifth Avenue.

Various groups of veterans headed down the street one car or trailer at a time. They were followed by Zephyrhills High School ROTC and JROTC members, Helen’s Baton and Dance Studio dancers, several leagues of Boy Scouts and a few other veteran-supporting groups.

Also in the mix of veterans were the animals who served the country. These included dogs and horses.

Main Street Zephyrhills hosts this event every year. A member of the board of Main Street Zephyrhills, Jody Wilkeson, commented on the history of the parade.

“The Veteran’s Day parade has been going on for over ten years here in downtown,” Wilkeson said. “On and off, probably for twenty years since Main Street was first formed.”

The announcer of the parade, Greg First, was honored to recognize veterans again this year, as he has been announcing the parade for years. He too is a veteran.

“I was in during Vietnam, 1968 to 1972,” First said. “The war that no one really liked back then but I was happy to serve. I’d do it again.”

The parade reminds us to show gratitude to our veterans and remember all those who served.

 

Defying The Odds

When trying to push past your limits, a lot of people say they do not want to hear excuses. That is where the catch phrase “no excuses, no limits” came into play for Luca Patuelli.

Patuelli was diagnosed with arthrogryposis, a disease that limits muscle growth in certain parts of the body. For Patuelli, it took a toll mostly on his legs.

“My dream is to be able to walk,” says Patuelli.

Through hard work and perseverance, he is slowly realizing that dream. Patuelli participated in a 2.5K walk and finished. The amazing part: he did not use his crutches.

Patuelli now travels all over speaking to groups of people to push his message of positivism and encouragement. He wants people to believe in themselves and realize they can do whatever they want— all it takes is confidence.

 

Manatee Viewing Center Expects Bigger Crowds In 30th Year

 

Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center employee’s Jamie Woodlee and Bob Rast both share a common passion for the protection of Florida manatees.

Woodlee has worked for TECO’s Manatee Viewing Center for more than 30 years and has seen the facility grow into what it is today.

“I’ve actually been with Tampa Electric for 30 years, and started right away in their environmental department,” Woodlee said. “It’s just been an amazing experience being able to see how far we’ve come since I first started here.”

Located off of Dickman Road in Apollo Beach Florida, the TECO Manatee Viewing Center offers guests an up close and personal view of manatees in their natural habitat. According to tampaelectric.com, Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach delivered reliable electricity to the community for 16 years before the commercial operation of Big Bend Unit 4 in 1986. It was that year where people first took notice of manatees arriving in large numbers in the power station’s discharge canal.

“We get visitors from all over the world,” Woodlee said. “We get anywhere from 150,000 to over 300,000 visitors in over five-in-a half months.”

The Manatee Viewing Center’s mission is to educate the public about the Florida manatee and its habitat. The center is a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary, which has interactive exhibits and staff members educating visitors of all ages about the life cycle of the manatee and the challenges it faces.

Rast said when the waters of Tampa Bay reaches 68 degrees or colder, the manatees would seek refuge in the Apollo Beach area.

“They are a unique creature,” Rast said. “When the weather gets chilly and the manatees get cold stressed, they come here to get warm and recharge their batteries so to speak.”

Rast has worked for the TECO Manatee Viewing Center for over 16 years and has extensive expertise on manatees in the area.

With tourists and locals flocking in from November 1 until April 15, the Manatee Viewing Center is ready for another year of big crowds.

“We are this quiet little gem of a place that is really starting to get out there,” Woodlee said.

Yoga On Tap: A Great Fit

 

It is not often that we associate beer with yoga, but 3 Daughters Brewing has teamed up with The Body Electric Yoga Company to prove otherwise.

Twice a month, the brewery welcomes the community in St. Petersburg to engage with other yogis. Here you will find that yoga, beer and live acoustic music flock like birds of a feather. Jonathan Truong, the marketing coordinator at the brewery said bringing communities closer together is what matters most.

“We try to keep it really relaxed here, and family-friendly is a big deal,” Truong said. “If you look around you will not find any TVs. We want it to be about enjoying each other’s company.”

About 50 people participated in the event, and it would seem that these companies are achieving a successful and relaxing environment.

The idea of integrating beer and yoga started as a method of relieving anxiety, and bring balance to people’s lives inside and out. The yoga facilitators want to welcome people of all ages and fitness levels because they believe that yoga can be both fun, and beneficial to one’s health.

“In the western world nowadays, people are so high strung, anxious and stressed,” said Jessica Needham, a yoga facilitator. “For me, I’m not teaching people how to do fancy postures and poses. I’m educating people on how to take control of their minds, and how to relax when they get anxiety – which are important aspects that I value in yoga.”

As a bonus, you get to treat yourself with an ice-cold beer.

Katelyn Grady, the owner of The Body Electric Yoga Company, said “Yoga is always there for me.”

“We believe in this yoga thing and we think it helps people be better, feel better and maybe be nicer better people,” Grady said. “It is our belief that yoga can help improve the community physically, and spiritually for some people.”

Empowering Freshmen Academic Success, Beyond

(Photo by Daniel Fisher)
(Photo by Daniel Fisher)

Enrolling at USF for the first time after moving away from New England was a culture shock for freshmen Brianna Bizier.

After attending the Week of Welcome event “Welcoming to a Rewarding Year, Welcome to a Rewarding Career,” the education major said she is happy to find comfort on campus.

“My first impression coming here was that it was big and almost daunting because I came from a small high school in New England,” Bizier said. “By applying for the Provost’s Scholarship Program, I am confident that it will open opportunities to pursue my future career as an English teacher.”

After meeting the staff and faculty from the College of Education at the TECO Hall, Bizier said USF is well prepared in offering their services to help students succeed in college.

“As I got to know the school more, I learned that the staff and faculty are very welcoming and helpful,” Bizier said. “When life gets tough, students have to ask for help because you cannot do everything in life alone.”

Even other freshmen at the event were seeing USF in a positive light.

“Networking with people is important in earning a college education because it influences how you would achieve your goals in life,” said Jonathan DuQuaine, a major in mathematics.

With a love for math and a passion to teach, DuQuaine aspires to be a high school math teacher.

“I had a few teachers in the past that really love math, which inspired me to be more fluent with all levels of math like calculus and algebra,” DuQuaine said.

DuQuaine is confident that his new techniques and way of presenting his knowledge would be beneficial.

“When I teach, I want to be able to instruct what I know to students and feel good about passing new knowledge to them,” DuQuaine said.

With the College of Education inviting freshmen to the WOW event on Aug. 25, the assistant director of Student Academic Services Lindsey Williams said the new school year is looking bright.

“So far, we have about 92 first-year students who entered in the summer and fall semester, and are pursuing a degree in the College of Education,” Williams said.  “We want to show that USF has a lot of opportunities for students to succeed in college, and after they graduate.”

‘War on I-4’ Gets Official

The USF vs. UCF rivalry game has a new factor. A trophy to be specific. A 4 foot, 160 pound monster of a trophy.

After seven games in the series, three in conference, both schools formally established The War on I-4, a football rivalry as well as a general athletic rivalry that spans all sports that USF and UCF play against each other.

“I think it means a lot (for the rivalry),” said Adam Schemm, the assistant athletic director for marketing. “We don’t necessarily have the biggest rivalry yet, but we think we have a pretty cool and big trophy that can really get the fan bases and the student athletes and the students on campus excited for a great rivalry game every year.”

Junior Matt Neuhausen agreed.

“I think it’s great that we have a trophy now to play for because we see a lot of the big rivalries have trophies that they play for,” Neuhausen said. “So now we have something to kind of highlight our rivalry with UCF.”

The trophy is made of two parts: the base, which will have engraved plates for every game; and the road sign, which extends out of the top of the base, and is easily removed for parading around a football stadium.

The new trophy will be contested for the first time this Saturday at noon at Raymond James Stadium. The winner drives the trophy out on a semi.