Different perspectives on USF’s Tobacco and Smoke Free Policy

USF has implemented a new Tobacco and Smoking Free Policy. Tobacco and smoking are now prohibited from the Tampa campus, which means that the university’s 24 designated smoking areas no longer exist.

“USF made this change because the university is committed to providing a healthy and safe environment for people to learn in and for people to work in,” USF media and public affairs manager, Adam Freeman, said. “By going tobacco and smoke free for the entire campus, we’re hoping to promote a healthy lifestyle and a lifestyle built around wellness for all members of the community.”

The policy went into effect Jan. 4 before the spring semester started. The university is aiming for the policy to be peer enforced. This can be done by asking people who are smoking to stop or by contacting the building manager nearest to where the smoking is taking place. Students caught smoking can be taken to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities to face disciplinary action. Staff and faculty can be brought before their supervisors. However, the consequences do not seem to be a deterrent.

“I think that it’s definitely a good idea, absolutely,” USF junior Nick Salsone said. “I see that a lot of people don’t follow the rules, but I think that they should.”

There are still plenty of people smoking on campus. The word “free” was scratched off of one of the tobacco and smoke free campus signs.

“I think if people want to smoke, they should be able to,” sophomore Madeline McKeever said. “People are going to do it regardless, so the signs don’t really stop anyone.”

USF’s St. Petersburg and Sarasota campuses already have tobacco free policies. USF Tampa has been working towards a tobacco free campus for the past four years.

Getting social with the USF brand

Social media has never been more prevalent in college and professional sports than it is today. At the University of South Florida, Mike Farrell is the man behind the computer screen.

“A lot of it is one, developing a voice for our social channels and then two creating content that’s going to engage our fanbase,” Farrell said.

As the Director of Digital Content, Farrell is in charge of churning out vines, tweets, pictures and more across all of USF Athletics’ social media platforms every day.

“One of the things we want to do and want to push is to create stuff that is engaging, stuff that people want to consume, share, retweet and help spread the brand,” Farrell said.

One of the most important days for any athletic department each year is National Signing Day. Student athletes from all over the country officially sign with the school of their choosing. The content created by Farrell and his team made waves on a national level, including an appearance on Yahoo! Sports Dr. Saturday blog.

“This year in particular we had a couple national organizations, blogs, write about some of the things that we did,” Farrell said. “It was a lot of hard work, a lot of people put in a lot, a lot of hours for what’s really just a glorified morning. But I do think that it pays dividends in the end.”

The work Farrell puts in on a daily basis is critical to the growing online presence that is USF Athletics.

“For a large subset of our fans, if you don’t have that presence, you’re irrelevant,” Senior Associate Director of Athletics Andrew Goodrich said.

Even though Farrell is fully focused on the day-to-day task of enhancing USF Athletics’ presence online, he doesn’t lose sight of the big picture.

“When one person leaves, somebody else can come in and there’s no drop,” Farrell said. “That’s the USF brand. That’s the USF Athletics brand. That’s the USF football brand. There’s no change. That needs to be a constant.”




USF Oracle finds way to coexist with the online world

Print is not dying for The Oracle, USF’s independent student-run newspaper. It is evolving.

The paper has reduced their publication days from four times a week to two. Multimedia editor Adam Mathieu said the staff has to remain quick when delivering the news, but he felt relieved to print less frequently.

“We don’t have to worry about having a print product out by 12:30 (a.m.) four days a week,” Mathieu said.

Grace Hoyte, the editor-in-chief during the change, published a letter to the readers in December. In it, she wrote The Oracle “must accept” that readers are turning online for their news.

“The Oracle welcomes students from all majors to contribute,” she added, “and with a greater online presence, we will remain a forum for diverse voices and opinions.”

One of those areas includes social media. The newspaper’s sports section Twitter account conducted a poll in March to survey how their followers received from The Oracle. While print edged out the website option by five percentage points, 61 percent of those who responded said they received information through social media.

“We’re seeing more people comment and more posts shared. Just a very active Facebook account,” Mathieu said. “And then active hits on our website and more people heading to the website.”

While the new schedule reduces the quantity of newspapers circulated each week, Matthieu said the amount printed for each day remains unchanged at 8,000.

Not everyone settled in with the switch when they first found out. Sports editor Jacob Hoag said he liked being able to read the news on a physical copy.

“I wasn’t too happy with it,” Hoag said. “I thought it was going to hurt our production but it really hasn’t. We can do more feature stories in the paper and more hard news online.”

More Than Plants Inhabit USF’s Botanical Gardens


A flash of orange slinks inside a small greenhouse. It passes an array of orchids and other green plants but pays them no mind. To this colorful character, home is where your dinner is.

The cats that reside at the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens seem to have no interest in who comes to visit them and admire the flowers. Even so, they do show an interest in time. Every day around 4 p.m. they come to the greenhouse for a meal, provided by director of the gardens, Laurie Walker. While Walker enjoys their company, she is troubled by the fact that some of the cats once belonged to someone else.

“I don’t want to be a repository for unwanted pets,” Walker said. “Unfortunately, people have a tendency to dump animals here and that is not good.”

Most of the six cats living on the property are feral and not socialized. Through the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, all known cats on the property have been spayed or neutered and vaccinated. But one cat named Rafters, who passed away a year ago, held a special place in the hearts of staff members at the gardens. Walker believes she was once a pet because of how social she was.

The recently deceased feline even had her own Facebook page with about 500 likes. Walker speculates that more pictures had been taken of Rafters than any of the flowers in the gardens. Rafters was well known to even the children who visited.

“I would look out and there would be little kids running through the garden carrying her,” Walker said.

Kevin Slaughter, senior groundskeeper at the gardens, also admired and enjoyed the company of Rafters while she was around. However, he stands on the fence with the issue of feral cats living on the property.

“Having feral cats is not really an environmentally friendly thing, especially since we have so much wildlife,” Slaughter said. “They’re part of the garden and having them as part of the character of the garden is a good thing, but then there’s the other side of it.”

The other side involves the issue of the cats hunting and killing native animals that also call the gardens home. Despite this, rescue organizations like Second Chance Sanctuary say that feral cats exist because they have been abandoned. If they’re going to live, they must find food. These feral garden cats find their needs being met at USF.

Staff provide for the felines, which is ritual by now. Walker bangs tin bowls together and calls out. Cats dash underneath plant stands, avoiding the footfall of any nearby human being. A grey male known as Bat Kitty slinks towards a tin of fresh cat chow, glaring at a woman who picks up a hanging plant across the greenhouse.

While these feral cats may be king of the jungle at the botanical gardens, people have dumped unwanted pets of other kinds there. Slaughter mentioned one embarrassing event in which he had to chase down a rooster and some hens. All of the birds were successfully found a new home, but were not easily caught.

“Here’s this grown man chasing a chicken around with a rake,” Slaughter said. “It was embarrassing but we finally got rid of them.”

Pet rabbits were another of the animals left to fend for themselves in the gardens. Their fate was unknown, but Slaughter could only assume what happened to them.

“I saw them hopping around and I couldn’t catch them,” Slaughter said. “And I’m sure the hawks got them. If not, the alligators. If not, they just couldn’t make it.”

Staff at the gardens do not recommend or endorse the notion of dropping off unwanted pets. But there are still hungry feline mouths to feed. The money spent on keeping the cats from going hungry comes right from Walker’s own wallet. To help staff keep up with taking care of the grounds as well as feeding the cats, volunteers are always welcome to apply and attend orientation.

According to USF’s website, the gardens take up about 10 acres of land at USF. The gardens are open every day of the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days. Keeping up with maintenance is essential, but difficult without extra help.

“We have wonderful volunteers that help us,” Walker said. “Many of them are from the community, but a lot of them are students and we really encourage students to come out and volunteer.”

Trump Rally Sells Out Sundome

With the Florida primaries just four weeks away, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump made his first visit to the Bay area.

Trump held a rally at the University of South Florida’s Sundome in front of a sellout crowd of 11,000. Many of those in attendance were students.

Mark Stutzman, a graduate student at USF, was one of the first in line at the rally, arriving nearly eight hours before doors opened.

“We’re here to see the next President of the United States.” Stutzman said. “I like the excitement he brings to the political process. We’ve had the same type of people running over and over again that make empty promises.”

Trump’s visit came just three days after his win in the New Hampshire primary. He focused on many of the issues that have kept him atop the polls in nearly every state.

His visit was met with opposition, however, as hundreds gathered outside the venue in protest of Trump’s visit. One protester made their way inside and briefly interrupted the rally. They were quickly removed from the building at the direction of Trump.

Trump spoke for nearly an hour. He concluded with a signature Trump message.

“We’re gonna make America great again. We’re gonna win all the time. We’re gonna bring our country back and we’re gonna be proud, once again, to be citizens of this great country.” Trump said.

The Florida primaries are March 15.


USF Housing Community looks for new resident assistants

The Housing Community of the University of South Florida is choosing the Resident Assistants of the 2016-2017 school year.

USF has multiple open spots for students who want to apply to be part of the R.A. team.

“My favorite part about being an R.A. is the constant interaction I have with residents on a daily basis,” said Aislinn Jolicoeur.

Jolicoeur is a second year USF R.A., and she plans on being one for this school year as well.

She currently lives in Epsilon hall, a USF freshman dorm.

“She’s very helpful, and she helps me a lot with homework because we are in the same major and have similar classes,” freshman Yvette Cheesman said. “It’s my first time away from home and it’s nice to have someone here to watch over you. That’s not overbearing like a parent would.”

Chessman said that R.A. “Ace” has made her transition to college easier.

There is a very selective process when picking the R.A.s, but Jolicouer said they choose a diverse amount of students for the position, and it truly is a life changing one.

R.A.s have an impact by helping students transfer from home to college life.

Final decisions on the students who were selected for the position will be available during the first week of March.

Study abroad but explore locally

This generation of “millennials” has a newfound urge to travel around the world. Wanderlust has been redefined and University of South Florida students have multiple opportunities to study abroad.

Dr. Rick Wilber, a mass communications professor, has been taking students to Ireland for the past two to three decades.

“There are a lot of wonderful places to go and a lot of great people to meet,” Wilber said. “It’s not surprising that this generation of students is taking advantage of the opportunity.”

The trip originally started off as backpacking through Scotland. But over the course of three to four years, Wilber says they started to spend more and more time in Ireland and less time in Scotland that it became the Ireland trip.

The new generation has many aspirations to travel the world but often forgets that there are many wonders in the great state of Florida. Stacie Aviles, a graduate student from USF, has become accustomed to taking any adventure she can fit into her busy schedule.

“I don’t think Florida gets a lot of credit for its nature,” Aviles said. “Lettuce Lake Park and Flatwoods Park are just two of many places students can go within a 10 minute drive.”

If there is one thing that Aviles wants her fellow millennials to remember, it is to steer away from the social media realm.

“Don’t spend so much time on your phones when you’re up there.” she said. “I know the views can be really breathtaking but just remember to take it all in for yourself.”

Trump’s proponents and opponents get together at the USF Sun Dome


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump brought the unexpected to the University of South Florida, himself. Word spread fast after Trump announced that his campaign stop in Florida would be held at the Sun Dome.

Just days before the rally, Trump won the New Hampshire primary. He has been recognized for his controversial statements throughout his candidacy.

USF students had a variety of responses.

“I believe him being on the campus might make us look kind of bad, considering USF prides itself on being one of the most diverse schools in Florida,” student protester Amanda Lynn Hill said. “A lot of minority groups are really offended by the fact that he’s here.”

A large amount of student supporters showed up for the event as well. Though doors did not open until 5 p.m., Trump’s proponents lined up early and were ready to be vocal about their candidate.

“I like the excitement he brings to the political process, I believe that we’ve been stuck too long, having the same types of people running over and over again making empty promises backed by corporations,” Trump supporter and USF graduate student Mark Stutzman said.

There was also a substantial amount of people who showed up as mere spectators. Given Trump’s near constant media presence, it was certainly one of the most-talked about event of the weekend.

“I wanted to see him in person,” USF student Evan Ales said. “First of all, it’s a great opportunity, if he does happen to be president, that’d be cool if I got to see the president, or the preemptive president.”

Trump rally creates chaos among attendees

Donald Trump made his first appearance in Florida since winning Super Tuesday when he appeared at the University of Central Florida in front of a 5,000 person crowd. Trump’s speech was more of the same rhetoric, talk without any substance. The speech, however, did cause approximately 30 attendees to erupt in protest.


USF student reaches new heights through her religion


With Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States, all eyes have been on the Catholic Church, and while many people view him as the champion of social change, critics argue that when it comes to the role of women within the church they still have a long way to go.

One University of South Florida student is challenging these views by becoming the youngest female acolyte within the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

Ashlie O’Brien didn’t grow up in a religious family.

“Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be an alter server, but my parents were never very involved in the church so I wasn’t given that ministry opportunity,” O’Brien said.

Upon attending college, O’Brien decided to take matters into her own hands and began serving at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Temple Terrace. Within one year she had become the highest level of alter server within the church, a feat that takes many individuals years to accomplish.

“It all started with a single daily mass which is just one alter server doing the steps, wine, bible….things like that,” O’Brien said. “Then it turned into adoration, weddings, funerals and I just kept working my way up.”

Her passion for serving is continuing to push her to open more doors for women within the Catholic religion. For O’Brien, alter serving is something she wants to do “every day.”

Tampa Theatre Hosts True West With a Twist at USF

University of South Florida alumni returned to their old stomping grounds on Sunday for the Tampa Repertory Theatre’s production of “True West,” a comedy about two brothers arguing over a screenplay that could change their lives.

Screenplay director Megan Lamasney was excited to come back to her alma mater and showcase her work.

“I was an undergrad here in the theater department and it was cool to come back to home base and see where it started,” Lamasney said. “It was great bringing some exciting work here.”

Although Lamasney was excited for the project, actor Jack Holloway was rather nervous when asked to perform. Rather than sticking to one role, Holloway had to alternate roles between both brothers in the screenplay.

“I was terrified when Megan called me and told me about doing the roles and then switching every night,” Holloway said. “I had never done that before in terms of switching roles, so I was a bit nervous.”

Being back in the Theatre Arts Rehearsal Building brought back several memories for Holloway.

“It was wonderful, but it is strange because a part of the play is about coming back home and it feels like I don’t have to act that,” Holloway said. “It’s honestly surreal because you’re acting in a place where you grew up.”

On the other side of the play is actor Dan Granke, who is a performing arts professor at USF. Granke admitted that getting to perform and being able to teach students was a unique experience.

“This is home for me, this is where I work and it very much feels like home,” Granke said. “I have so many students who haven’t seen me perform, and it feels great to show them rather than just tell them.”

Granke worked constantly with Holloway to perfect the art of switching the roles each night and staying in character. While difficult, Granke enjoyed the challenge and said it comes with good parts.

“It’s a lot of fun because it’s a piece that has its hard moments, but it also has its comic moments. So getting to do both allowed you to feel like you’re not stuck to one role,” Granke said.

Granke moved to Tampa in 2013 to become a professor, meanwhile working with Holloway as an artistic director for the Tampa Shakespeare Festival.

“It was interesting because when I moved here three years ago, I was told that I have a doppelgänger,” Granke said. “We both love working together, Jack and I do comedy, stage combat and we’ve gotten close over the years.”

Aside from the great role and being able to perform in front of students, Granke said his first priority was and always is to entertain.

“I go out as an actor, I’m also a director and a fight director,” Granke said. He directs the combat onstage during scenes.“My goal is always to entertain people. I want to challenge people and just let people have a good time so they want to come back and see more.”

Granke holds theater performances close to his heart because in today’s age of digital streaming and technology, the art of live theater seems rare to him.

“Any time there’s a chance for live theater I think it’s great, and with everything becoming live streaming it’s kind of hard to appreciate it,” Granke said. “I just think theater is just one of those places where you can’t do it any other way.”


Jack Holloway and Dan Granke alternated roles between Austin and Lee in the Tampa Reportory Theatre’s rendition of “True West”

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.


Students not ready to kick the habit on campus


At the beginning of the new year, the University of South Florida implemented a tobacco ban across campus. After nearly two months, however, the university is having trouble enforcing it.

“Any time you change policy, or you change anything, you’re gonna’ have a few people that are maybe resistant to change, or are not ready to change just yet,” said Adam Freeman, USF Media/Public Affairs manager.

There is no law enforcement involved or surveillance used. Instead, the policy is peer enforced. The idea is that students and faculty hold each other accountable.

“If you see somebody on campus smoking using tobacco, if you feel comfortable, you can approach them and simply tell them this is a tobacco and smoke free campus and politely ask them to stop,” Freeman said.

Students and staff at USF have not exactly jumped on board with this concept yet. Instead, smokers have been gathering in the places that were designated smoking areas and sparking up just as they have in the past.

For a student who wishes to peer enforce, the process involves first asking the smoker to stop. If that doesn’t work, then reporting the smoker to the nearest building manager is the next step. The building manager then could turn them in, subjecting the smoker to either the student code of conduct or disciplinary action, which depends on the position of the offender.

A protest was held Wednesday by several smokers, but USF is not budging on its tobacco policy.

No. 19 USF women’s stomp Tigers in 15-point win

No. 19 USF women’s basketball nearly reached the centennial scoring mark for the third time this season in a 97-82 victory over the Memphis Tigers.

The Bulls made 46 percent of their 80 field goal attempts to split the season series against Memphis and keep their postseason tournament hopes alive.

“We’ve been in the Top-20 in both polls all year long,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “Those polls don’t matter in that (NCAA Tournament) committee room. We don’t want to leave it in the committee’s hands.”

USF fought its way out of a seven-point deficit early in the first half. During that time, the Bulls had five of their seven turnovers.

Senior guard Courtney Williams began the effort to pull away after she hit a 3-pointer with five minutes left in the first half. Senior point guard Shalethia Stringfield and sophomore forward Laura Ferriera followed with 3-pointers of their own during a 9-0 run.

“We just needed to hurry and get on a run so they wouldn’t come back into the game,” Alisia Jenkins said.

The senior forward finished with 20 points and team-leading 17 rebounds.

Williams, Stringfield, Ferreira, and freshman forward Kitija Laksa all also scored over 10 points on Sunday.

“For us to continue to sustain and have that lead, I think it was because of how well we rebounded and took care of the basketball.”

USF will travel to Oklahoma for a midseason matchup against Tulsa before returning for the final home game against Temple on Saturday.

The Truth Behind the USF Seal

The USF seal is a significant icon to USF history. It’s the first landmark you see on Collins, and in the middle of the Marshall Student center.

But what does it mean?

Jacob Stephenson, a freshman at USF, voices his opinion on the based on the myth he’s heard.

“Yea, I heard that if you step on it you won’t graduate. That’s a given. So pretty sure no one actually steps on it. I’ve seen people step on it, but I’m sure they’re not going to graduate,” Stephenson said.

Fahad Al Raee is also a freshman, and he heard the same rumor from advisors.

“They told me you should not step on the logo because if you do you will not be able to pass,” Raee said.

The Seal was created by Henry Gardner and was first used in the USF Catalog called Accent on Learning. But besides the myth going around campus about the seal, John S. Allen, the USF’s first president defined its meaning.

“President Allen, he knew a lot of the programs here were studying the earth, everything happening on the earth. He by trade was, by his academic background was an astronomer,” Andy Huse said, from Special Collections. “There’s the sun symbolizing knowledge, light, heat, life. The lamp symbolizes enlightenment. The Green corresponds with the Earth, and the Gold corresponds with the Sun.”


University of South Florida Student Pushes to End Human Trafficking

This problem may seem too close to home, but there are thousands of victims of human trafficking here in the state of Florida. It’s a University of South Florida student’s mission to end it.

With the help of the International Justice Mission, Katie French hopes to make an impact in her community.

“I really love International Justice Mission,” Katie said. “And one of the things I love about them is the way they view human trafficking as a solvable problem.”

Katie has been involved with IJM at USF, a student organization chapter of a larger international nonprofit organization that fights human trafficking world wide, for about three years now. At a Christmas concert event recently, Katie and other members of IJM were selling bracelets for Threads of Hope, a nonprofit that works in the Philippines with impoverish families.

“They try to create self sustaining income so people don’t resort to being trafficked or trafficking their children, which happens in the Philippines,” Katie said.

This is just one of the many nonprofit organizations that the IJM at USF supports. They also focus on raising awareness for the issues of human trafficking, raising funds for IJMs work abroad, advocating campaigns with petitioning legislation pushes and hosting prayer events because of their Christian affiliation.

While Katie is not involved in leadership this semester, she continues to provide a helping hand to other members of IJM. Cindy Navarette, friend and advertiser for the club, tells of how she can always depend on Katie.

“Even though she’s not a part of leadership anymore, she’s still right there with us helping us out as much as she can,” Cindy said.

Katie has high hopes for the future where she will one day open up her own church or ministry to help Samaria refugees in Atlanta, Georgia by using her public health degree as a way to build relationships and help the poor and oppressed.

“We really have such an obligation to help the poor,” Katie said. “And you know as a Christian that been a really big driving force for me. My faith has really kept me passionate about this cause.”