Staying connected is always crucial on campus, but it comes at a cost. A texting and driving law exists in Florida, but the House and Senate are trying to make that law easier to enforce.
Chris Daniel, assistant chief of the USF Police Department, has experienced the difficulty of enforcing the law.
“I’ve pulled up to students at red lights and have had roll-down window conversations because I saw them texting and driving,” Daniel said. “Although I can see they were blatantly texting, I can’t stop them because they aren’t doing anything else for me to stop them.”
Daniel is talking about the current Florida statute that allows texting drivers to receive a ticket only as a secondary offense, not a primary offense. This means drivers can be ticketed for texting and driving only if they are stopped for another offense and the officer then sees they were using the phone.
USF has over 40,000 students generating both foot traffic and car traffic on campus. Texting and driving here is a bad combination.
“We have a small community with a lot of people in it. A pedestrian can walk out in front of you, a bicyclist can ride out in front of you in seconds,” Daniel said.
The law may need to be updated to include other social media platforms. People are now using applications like SnapChat while they drive.
“I definitely see a lot of SnapChatting while driving on campus,” said Carlos Garcia, a USF senior. “I think texting and driving becoming a primary stop would be ideal. It’s about safety.”
States like Delaware and New York have made it illegal to use a phone while driving. Florida may be next.
Bull Market takes place every Wednesday on the campus of USF from October through May during the fall and spring semesters. Student organizations, USF departments and even local business owners can have a booth outside the Marshall Student Center.
Like many other local business owners, Alex Gopali of Gopali Himalayan Imports tries as much as he can to come to Bull Market and sell his products to the USF community.
“I came to USF in early 2014 — it’s been little over a year now — and I come here every Wednesday as long as Bull Market is here,” Gopali said.
However, what separates Gopali from his competition is that he sells unique products — 95 percent of which are directly from Nepal, Gopali said.
“I have direct connection with the people who make these handmade, hand-crafted products: jewelry to singing bowls, to any kind of meditation, to rituals, to traditional cultural products,” he said.
Gopali doesn’t sell his products just to the USF community, but also goes to other markets around Tampa Bay, such as Dunedin, Shops at Wiregrass, Carrollwood, Hyde Park, Ybor City and St. Petersburg.
But the reason he said he comes to Bull Market is the younger generation.
“They’re always looking for some different ways to do meditation, how to find peace in their lives, which is going to help them to focus on their studies,” Gopali said. “The more we are peaceful, the more we can accomplish.”
If you want to bring your business to USF’s Bull Market like Gopali did, visit the Marshall Student Center website.
With Black Heritage Month underway at the University of South Florida, the Department of Multicultural Affairs kicked off the month of celebration in style. They threw a ceremony that featured music, speeches, dancing and food.
To many, February is just another month. But for others, it has great importance in their lives.
“Black history month means a lot to me, especially this event,” said Dr. Tomar Ghansah, an assistant professor in USF’s Department of Molecular Medicine. She voiced her enthusiasm for what the Department of Multicultural Affairs is doing. “It gives me the opportunity to congregate with other diverse minorities.”
The keynote speaker for the evening was Delatorro McNeal. He is a Tampa area resident who attended Florida State University. His goal was to inspire the attendees of the event, and many said he did just that.
“I believe there is a few principles that we can learn from our foremothers and forefathers that, if we reach back and get them things and apply them to our lives, we can have a powerful today and an explosive tomorrow,” McNeal said.
The speaker’s enthusiasm spurred the audience to interact with him. He even gave out books and DVDs at the end of his presentation.
Many say the most important thing to remember about Black Heritage Month is honoring all of the prominent figures that made an impact in people’s lives. Sujit Chemburkar is the director of the Marshall Student Center at USF and spoke about the figure he looks up to the most.
“Arthur Ashe has always been a figure, for me, that has been motivational and inspirational — the barriers that he broke down and the way he did it with class,” Chemburkar said. “He demonstrated a lot of athletic prowess, but more than that, he was just a person of good moral character.”
Every day in Tampa Bay, most students take various roads to come to campus. For two USF students, their commutes are quite different.
Fine arts student Dillon O’ Donnell drives from the city to USF, while graduate student Edgar Prieto drives onto campus from Ruskin.
“My commute is about 45 minutes,” Prieto said.
Unfortunately, the good times for O’ Donnell and Prieto may not be for long, at least for right now, AAA Spokesman Mark Jenkins said.
“We will see an increase of 30 to 50 cents, which is common and no need to panic,” Jenkins said. “After Spring Break, we will see gas prices (fall) as the demand for gasoline goes down.”
With this recent stumble in high prices, the real question is not about the future, but about how much people are actually saving on their fuel costs.
“So the average household will save anywhere between $550 and $750 on fuel expenses, and that’s more money in people’s pockets that they can spend on travel, shopping, and dining out,” Jenkins said.
And that is just what O’Donnell and Prieto plan on doing.
“I plan on going camping or canoeing, but it takes money to fill up the tank,” O’Donnell said. “I’m going to Washington, D.C., with my family -wife and kids,” Prieto said.
As February began, gas prices were below $2 a gallon in the Tampa Bay area and remain steady. The lowest price for regular unleaded fuel was at Thornton’s at the intersection of Hillsborough and Armenia avenues for $1.72 a gallon, while the highest price for regular unleaded in the Tampa area was $1.99 at a Chevron in Town n’ Country. At the start of February, the average in Tampa was $1.94 a gallon, and the national average was $2.05 – 11 cents higher than Tampa.
More than 2,000 students at the University of South Florida woke up Saturday morning to give back to the Tampa Bay community during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.
Since 2006, the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement has hosted the school-wide annual service program “Stampede of Service” for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. Stampede of Service, USF’s largest service program, allows students to serve the community through their personal interests and abilities, in return for lifelong memories and connections.
“Our goal is to help educate and empower each student to be a catalyst for change,” said Mallory Trochesset, associate director of the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.
At 8 a.m. on Jan. 17, student participants met at the USF Corbett Soccer Stadium and were grouped by their interests toward specific social issues, which included community issues, disabilities, education and literacy, health care, homelessness, senior citizen care, hunger, youth, and environmental.
“Especially with the new structure this year, it provides students with the opportunity to do service that they really want to do and to connect with community departments that they have never known about,” said Francis Gelormini, Days of Service coordinator on the Civic Engagement Board.
Maxon Victor, a USF student and founder of SOS, was one of the guest speakers who opened the event. Victor founded SOS for students to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with their fellow peers and community partners by making a positive impact in the community.
“It was cool to have the guy who started it there to kind of talk to us and help us begin our day,” said Kristi Martinez, USF environmental biology major.
Each volunteer group was then sent to work with local companies and organizations at different locations around the Tampa Bay area. The service tasks ranged anywhere from picking up trash around USF to restocking shelves at the Community Food Pantry.
“This year we had 168 different organizations that have registered,” Trochesset said.
One environmental group volunteered for the City of Temple Terrace by planting trees in the newly built residential community. The City of Temple Terrace collects and plants new trees for these new communities, parks and other various sites each week and is always eager to have an extra set of helping hands whenever possible.
“Today we planted bald cypress trees as a part of the ‘rebuilding community’ efforts, because when they have to do construction sometimes they take down a lot of trees,” Martinez said. “So we are replanting them.”
By digging, replanting and watering the trees for these new homes, students realized their actions were significant for not only the community, but the world as well.
“If you don’t have enough trees, there will be a lack of oxygen and the whole ecosystem will be out of balance,” said Abigail Nicholas, USF computer engineering major. “It [SOS] helped me be more aware of everything, like how trees don’t just pop out of nowhere and people actually work on it.”
After completing their service activities, students met up at USF’s Greek Village at about 12:30 p.m. to enjoy free food and entertainment as a thank-you for their time and efforts bettering the Tampa Bay community. Students left the event not only with a free T-shirt and volunteer experience, but with new connections in the community and new found knowledge about the environment in which they live.
“They can establish relationships for the future that have great opportunities for anything,” Gelormini said.
An onstage speech against abortion brought controversy to a live music event at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s on USF’s campus Tuesday night.
Toward the end of the night, a friend of one of the members of the headlining band took over the stage and rapped about a few topics. The friend asked the audience what the No. 1 killer of African-Americans was, and he received no response. He said the answer was abortion, and then promoted his anti-abortion message with a rap. According to Taylor Mihocik, 19, the people coordinating the show didn’t look too happy.
“It was too controversial for an open mic night,” she said.
It was the only controversy of an otherwise successful night. Mihocik liked how anyone could get up and perform and thought it was an excellent place to showcase talent. While some students felt uncomfortable, others thought the concept of an open form should be encouraged to showcase the diverse culture at University of South Florida.
“This should happen more often, for sure,” said biochemistry and biotechnology major Dimitrios Antoniadis, 22.
A USF graduate student studying child behavioral health and the local band House of Woodbury proposed the event to Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in December. Desiree Jones, 24, coordinated with Beef ‘O’ Brady’s management, the food and dining hall, and lighting and sound people to get the restaurant prepared for the event.
“I’m not a band manager or anything so it was a new experience for me,” she said. “It was a little challenge for myself, but it was fun.”
Originally, the event was being held at the bookstore’s Starbucks on Wednesday nights, but was moved because of the early closing time. Now it’s at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s on Tuesday nights from 8-9:30 p.m. Rather than have a set house band, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s gives other artists opportunities by featuring a different band every month along with other student acts.
One of the other acts plans to perform as much as they can at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, because of the great atmosphere and challenge it created.
“It’s about time there’s some live music,” said environmental biology major and guitarist Chris Atteridge, 22.
Antoniadis and Atteridge both thought the best part of performing was the crowd’s response. Their goal as a band is to play at more shows and more diverse venues.
The most dangerous part of attending college is the journey to campus. Students who walk, bike or board to class face a higher risk for injury or death.
“It’s a combination of things,”said Chris Daniel, assistant police chief at the University of South Florida. “Part of the problem is, people come here and look at the university as a protected environment, not just in personal safety but safety with valuables and everything else.
“We are part of the bigger community around us. We have vehicles that travel through here that have no affiliation with USF whatsoever, but it’s an easy way to get from Fletcher to Fowler, so people just cut through.”
In 2011, there were 38 pedestrian and bicycle related crashes within a 1.5-mile radius around and including USF’s campus.
There are five apartment complexes, two campus entrances and several bus stops on 50th street, a high-traffic area for students.
Earlier this school year, 19-year-old Elizabeth Courtney was crossing 50th Street on her way to class when she was struck and critically injured by a Nissan Altima. The driver, Earnest Washington, was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian within a marked crosswalk.
In 2012, 4,743 people were killed in pedestrian/motor vehicle related accidents, which equates to more than 12 deaths per day. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 66% of pedestrian deaths were at non-intersections.
At the beginning of each semester, USF hosts Bulls Walk/Bike Week to encourage healthier living, reduction of greenhouse gasses and safer transportation for students to and from campus. But according to some students, not enough is being done.
“It might take these people who are affected, like me, to complain about it, because it’s just too dangerous,” said Tanisha Roberts, an ON50 resident.
Blood drive donations are low due to the hurting blood supply in the Tampa area. Having the flu is bringing our blood collection services down with it.
“If you currently have the flu, you can’t donate,” OneBlood nurse Alesia Williams said. “If you have the flu vaccine and don’t have the flu you can … but normally we have a shortage of a lot of the negatives. The negatives are normally in shortage because it’s the universal donor, and anyone can take that.”
OneBlood donation service desperately needs healthy donors, particularly those with the universal type, O negative.
“A lot of times it’s the O negatives, A negatives, B negatives — those are a lot in shortage because we use those a lot,” Williams said.
Too many people are home sick with the flu, causing blood donations to decrease.
“Actually, there is a huge flu outbreak right now, but I’m here and I’m healthy, so I’ll keep going with it,” said University of South Florida student Lauren Greene.
Healthy people 16 or older who weigh at least 110 pounds are the ideal donors.
USF’s Tampa campus has two OneBlood vehicles, at the Sun Dome and the Marshall Student Center.
“It’s really convenient to have these buses here,” Greene said. ”I live on campus, so it’s really easy to get here. I don’t have to travel, and you shouldn’t be driving cars after anyway, just in case something goes wrong. So having them here makes it really easy to get here.”
Donors receive a mini check-up. Schedule an appointment at oneblood.org or call 1-888-936-6283.
It was Saturday at the University of South Florida and students were enjoying the break from the hectic week of classes and homework. Marc Miller was spending his day with friends at the USF football game.
“It was pretty much the best experience I’ve had going to a football game,” Miller said.
Later that day Miller, a Premedical science student, went to visit a friend who lived in the apartment complex along 42nd Street across from the USF campus. It was a little after 2 a.m. when Miller and two of his friends left the apartment to head back to the USF’s dormitories.
“My friends and I were walking down the street,” Miller said. “When a car parked off to the side, two men jumped out and just ran at us with guns yelling to us to get on the ground.”
As the two assailants approached Miller and his friends, Miller started shouting for help, but his shouts for help were silenced by one of the attackers.
“One of them started to strangle me around my neck,” Miller said.
What happened to Miller and his friends is not a rare occurrence in Tampa. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s annual crime report, in 2013 there were 582 robberies that involved the use of a firearm.
But reading about the crime statistics does not compare with actually becoming a statistic.
While Miller was being strangled his attacker noticed a gold chain and ripped it off his neck. His attacker then put the gun to his head and ordered him to empty out his pockets.
“He then ripped off the belt I was wearing and demanded my wallet,” Miller said. “When I stood up to take the wallet out of my back pocket, that’s when he struck me with the butt-end of the gun on my chest.”
While Miller and his two friends were being attacked, cars were driving by. The drivers ignorant to what was happening. One driver did notice and stopped.
“One car finally slowed down and honked, realizing what was going on,” Miller said.
That saved Miller and his friends, making the assailants run back to their vehicle and speed away.
Since the attack, Miller is constantly looking over his shoulders and being aware of his surroundings.
“I really don’t want to even go out anywhere,” Miller said. “All of my senses are heightened, so that’s how I act around campus now.”
Miller’s plans are to finish out the semester and then go back home to Massachusetts.
“I just want to go home and transfer back to a school, close to home, where I know I’ll be safe,” Miller said.
Mia Topic seems like an average sorority sister. She loves her Alpha Delta Pi sisters, being social and making people smile.
Her ambitious attitude was molded by the struggles her family faced. Topic and her parents immigrated to the United States to escape the Bosnian Civil War.
Topic was born in 1993, just as the conflict in Bosnia intensified. She and her mother were forced to flee to Croatia without her father in the midst of war, because men in Bosnia were viewed as larger threat and had trouble leaving the country.
Topic and her mother took refuge in distant friends home in Croatia. Months passed, and they had no contact with her father. Her mother feared the worst.
In the wake of recent incidents on campus, USF committees are getting active in educating students on the dangers of sexual harassment.
According to the USF Police Department, two women were met by a stranger late at night on Nov. 4. They were approached on separate occasions within less than 30 minutes of each other. The situations escalated to inappropriate personal contact before the male suspect fled the scene.
This Thanksgiving, Cristina Vasquez, president of USF’s Phi Sigma Pi, is thankful for school.
“There are times when I realize how lucky I am to go to college,” said Vasquez, reminiscing about her worry over attending a university. “I don’t want other students to have to miss out on an education because something is holding them back.”
Growing up in a military home, Vasquez was constantly moving between foreign bases like Italy, Japan and Germany, filled with interesting cities and people. Her diverse insight has provided her with a worldly perspective on life and the importance of education.
“There are different education systems around the world, but most are more accessible than schools in the [United] States,” said Vasquez. She has seen firsthand the issues that plague students in the Tampa Bay community who cannot afford to get an education because of socioeconomic problems.
Vasquez believes that part of the reason why students drop out of high school or do not continue on to college, is because they don’t receive proper counseling and instruction on how to apply to school and receive funding. She also believes that some of them do not realize the importance of school, early on.
“My mother worked a full-time job, raised three kids and sacrificed her free time to go to college. Without her, I never would have realized the importance of education. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I have now.” Vasquez said.
Annie Hudgins, Vasquez’s mother, agrees that she was always trying to instill the importance of education into her children.
“I always told my children, I can’t leave you much but the one thing I want for you all is to get an education, because once you have that many doors that will open up for you. You [will] start to understand the world and others better,” she said.
Currently, Vasquez is a senior psychology student at USF. She hopes to become a high school counselor in the future, so that she may aid students into choosing to pursue higher education, despite the obstacles they may face. In the meantime, she uses her fraternity influence to run school supply and book drives for local elementary and middle schools.
“We have a philanthropic goal to overcome in the fraternity, and mine is education inequality. Every child deserves a good education,” said Vasquez. While the fraternity also participates in other charitable goals, like cleaning up the USF campus, Vasquez enjoys being able to pursue her passions with her fraternity.
Kiana Coffey, Vasquez’s best friend and roommate is also a member of Phi Sigma Pi and supports Vasquez’s passions in the fraternity.
“I think this is a really important goal. More accessible education would offer students facing adversity more opportunities for success,” Coffey said. She also believes that Vasquez’s loving nature and strong leadership skills would make her successful in pursuing this passion.
Vasquez may be an education advocate in the Tampa community, but at USF she makes strides elsewhere. Vazquez runs the first all gender-inclusive, honor fraternity at USF. Phi Sigma Pi consists of 40 to 60 people each semester, all of which have at least a 3.2 GPA and three or more semesters left at the university. According to Vasquez, Phi Sigma Pi has a hand in everything including scholarship, social and charity events.
Despite having the final say in fraternity decisions, Vasquez always takes into consideration the opinions of all her fraternity members.
“As a leader, it’s important to take the backseat and do what’s best for the group,” said Vasquez.
Patrick Bagge, a Phi Sigma Pi initiary advisor believes that Vasquez is a great mentor.
“[She] always puts the needs of others before her own,” Bagge said. “and always does her utmost to fulfill her goals.”
Cellular and Molecular Biology student, Kaylie Male, also agrees that Vasquez is an influential leader.
“I don’t think that [Vasquez] realizes how much positivity she radiates. I feel that her future will greet her with many more opportunities than she may even think possible. Her positivity and determination will be at the root of her success,” said Male, who has been a member of Phi Sigma Pi for two years.
Vasquez will be graduating USF in the spring of 2015. She hopes to inspire others to pursue higher schooling and become leaders within their community.
“Cristina will do a lot of good in the world, in small ways and big ways. She is definitely someone to keep an eye on,” Coffey said.
With so many leadership roles on campus, Cimino likes to think of them as additional classes. He knows just how important it is to keep up with all of his positions, so he frequently check his emails but understands when its time to take a break and focus on homework. A typical day for him begins at 8 a.m. and he doesn’t get back to his apartment until 11 p.m.
Some of Cimino’s duties include: planning and managing the events for Homecoming Week and USF Week, leading his fraternity and making positive changes to their organization, and also fulfilling the expectations of the students who elected him to senate.
Despite his heavy involvement on campus, and the impact he has on student life at USF, Cimino doesn’t let it get to his head—especially since he wasn’t one to be interested in leadership positions prior to college.
Roshni Patel and Keylon Moraldo are two complete strangers with one thing in common: Neither of them gets enough sleep.
Patel, a sophomore biomedical sciences major, is at the library almost every night during the school week. A typical day on campus for her begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 1 a.m., when she finally returns to her off-campus apartment.
“I probably get four to five hours of sleep on a normal night,” Patel said. “Some nights I get even less, and I feel really sleepy. Then I’m just dragging myself through the day, trying to figure out the next time I can hit my bed.”
Moraldo, a sophomore chemical engineering major, cites his heavy workload and roommate issues for his lack of sleep. He says that getting the ideal seven to eight hours of rest is impossible because he has so much to do and needs to get good grades.
“I don’t have a bedtime. I just basically nap for an hour or so— seriously, it’s what I do!” he said. “I know it’s not good, and I’m trying to readjust it in time for exams, so I can be well-rested for them.”
Patel and Moraldo are just two of the many college students nationwide who are sleep-deprived. Nearly 60 percent of college students claimed to feel “tired, dragged out, or sleepy” on multiple days during a normal week, according to a 2010 study of over 95,000 students by the American College Health Association. Brown University also reported that only 11 percent of college students get good sleep.
“Unfortunately, students don’t realize how much sleep deprivation affects their performance,” said Rachael Novick, a certified health education specialist at the USF Wellness Education center. “Health-wise, sleep can affect everything.”
Novick said that lack of sleep can cause students to feel more stressed leading to weight gain, a weakened immune system and problems learning and remembering material for class.
Dr. Robert Geck, the associate program director and a faculty physician at the USF Sleep Center, agreed.
“Inadequate sleep makes it difficult to consolidate your memories and to form new ones,” he said. “As a student, pulling an all-nighter actually impairs your memory more than getting a good night’s rest.”
Geck also pointed out that students run the risk of injuring themselves and others when they don’t get enough sleep. At a commuter school like USF, sleep-deprivation can cause grogginess and judgment problems in students driving to and from campus, resulting in car accidents.
But the bad news doesn’t stop there.
The amount of stress on a student’s body due to sleep deprivation could also have some serious consequences.
“Increased stress can lead to an increased disposition towards diabetes, heart disease and stroke farther down the road for students,” Geck said.
However, the good news is that it’s never too late for students to try and fix their sleeping habits.
“A lot of students don’t know what it feels like to be well-rested and productive because they never have been,” said Novick.
The Wellness Education center seeks to inform students on the importance of getting more sleep through data collection and programs on campus involving topics such as proper napping. Novick explained that naps shouldn’t make up for students’ lack of nighttime sleep, and they should only last 20 to 30 minutes. That amount of time allows students’ bodies to reach a restorative level of sleep, allowing them to wake up feeling energized.
“Sleep packs” are also available for free from the Wellness Education center. They include earplugs, an eye mask and “sleepy time” tea to help a student relax and get a good night’s rest.
Students may also be surprised that some of their daily habits can affect the quality of their sleep at night.
Geck recommended avoiding caffeinated drinks after 12 p.m. Beverages like coffee and soda only help to alleviate tired feelings for a short time, and can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. He explained that electronics, such as cell phones, tablets and TVs, should be turned off and kept away from the bed. The noises and light produced by these devices can disturb a student’s sleep throughout the night.
But the biggest change is probably the easiest to think of: setting a sleep schedule.
“Ideally, the key would be to keep a strict sleep regimen. Try to keep the same bedtime and wakeup time, if you can, regardless of the day of the week,” said Geck.
Like any problem, the first step to solving it is admitting you have one, and Patel and Moraldo aren’t in denial.
“I think if I didn’t feel like I have to do every single thing, I’d have more time to sleep,” said Moraldo. “I’m definitely going to spend a lot of time sleeping over winter break, and hopefully come back to school on a better schedule.”
Patel sees a few all-nighters in her future, and knows exactly how they will impact the average amount of sleep she gets.
“Oh, it’ll decrease, for sure,” she said. “I wish I got more sleep than I do.”
Phyllis Grae-Nielson has just finished celebrating the 27th anniversary of Greek Unique, her fraternity and sorority based store. Located near the University of South Florida in Tampa, Greek Unique also serves the University of Tampa, St. Leo University and Florida Southern University.
Greek Unique offers hundreds of gift items for almost every fraternity or sorority. However, they are best known for their classic jerseys and made-to-order items.
“We have a lot of different options, we have about 208 different fabrics so people can come in and choose the fabric that we have and they can also bring in their own fabric,” said Cali Sanford, the store manager.
What makes Greek Unique so special is that everything that is made to order, besides the garments, is made by hand. The fraternity and sorority letters that are sewn onto the jerseys are hand cut and put together.
“The main things that we do are double stitch and embroidery, so double stitch is the twill letters that you see that go across most of the people’s shirts and the embroidery is just standard embroidery,” said Sanford.
Greek Unique is also a family-based business. The store was first opened by Grae-Neilson and her two daughters, both USF Alumni. Now it is run by Grae-Neilson and her husband Alistar Nielson, who does the embroidery.
“This is what I’ve been doing for 27 years, and I love it,” said Grae-Nielson.
Greek Unique is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is located at 5025 East Fowler Avenue.
In full swing, Doctor Who fans and swing dancers came out to dance the night away and participate in costume contests. Wholloween, an annual event at USF, was held Oct. 23 from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at the Marshall Student Center’s amphitheater. The event was open to everyone. Roughly a hundred people came out to the event. It was a mixed crowd of Doctor Who themed costumes, self-invented costumes, and non-costumed attendees.
On Sunday, October 26, the Eta Eta Chapter of Gamma Phi Beta hosted its 2nd Annual Crescent Classic Chili Cook-Off in Greek Village at USF. The proceeds from the entrance fee go to the charity Girls on the Run. Guests voted on their favorite chili and were invited to play cornhole and line dance. Winning organizations received trophies. The first place overall winner Sigma Nu.
Story and photographs by: Emma Sims and Alyssa Perry
The men from USF’s Sigma Nu fraternity had a powdery layer of sawdust on their glasses. It was nearing midnight Wednesday. The clouds of fine dust battled for space in the already anxious air that filled the fraternity house backyard.
There were two days until the USF Homecoming parade, and the team of two Greek chapters, Sigma Nu and Delta Delta Delta, had just started building their float. They were behind schedule and running out of time. And to add more spice to the Crock-Pot of confusion, they did not have a theme for their float.
The team planed on decorating their trailer with a “Peter Pan” theme – at first.
“We have a problem. Gamma Phi Beta is already doing “Peter Pan” as their theme,” Delta’s activities director Nicole Harris said. “We can’t do it now, it’ll look like we copied them.”
“Maybe they copied us,” Sigma’s activity director John Lemmer said.
“We need a new theme, like now. Does anyone have an idea?” Harris asked the crew of six.
“What about “The Little Mermaid?’” Jill Bowen said.
The three Sigma Nu brothers were not impressed. Their childhood movie repertoire likely did not include the singing redheaded mermaid. The men wanted to stick with “Peter Pan,” but the women had already started singing Ariel’s ballad, “A Part of Your World.” The battle was lost as soon as it began.
“I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore. You want thingamabobs? I’ve got 20. But who cares? No big deal. I want more,” the group of Deltas belted to their confused audience.
“OK stop. This isn’t “High School Musical,’” Jordan Moore said.
“We don’t have any more time to talk about it,” Lemmer said.
And so, “The Little Mermaid” it was.
USF’s 2014 homecoming theme was “Once Upon a Homecoming.” The campus celebrations culminated with the Running with the Bulls Night Parade Friday night, comprised of floats and participants from various organizations, including Greek teams. Floats were judged for first, second and third place. There were four categories in the judging criteria: originality and creativity, theme, design and construction and, of course, green and gold spirit. The deadline for float construction was 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10.
The Running with the Bulls Night Parade took place at 7 p.m. Friday. Professional and homemade floats participated in the contest. The winner would be announced later that night at the Homecoming After-Party.
Fraternities and sororities at USF paired up for the homecoming week events. Each Greek team had a committee of 20 participants, with 10 from each fraternal organization. The participating few were expected to take part in the homecoming responsibilities, which included building the float.
Float construction was not limited to the homecoming committee. Any of the organization’s members could help, but finding available students proved to be a project in itself.
“It’s really hard to find people who will help. It’s a really ridiculous time commitment for the week,” Harris said. “That’s hard when people have class at night and jobs.”
Wednesday night’s float crew included only six workers – three sorority sisters and three fraternity brothers. The Sigma men were working until 1 a.m. Thursday, building a pirate ship on their trailer.
“Girls can’t exactly handle power tools,” Harris said.
Once the float construction was assembled, the women joined the men to help improve the aesthetics. Friday afternoon was spent working collaboratively to meet the float competition’s criteria.
Harris was trying to round up the focus of her workers. She needed to make a trip to the Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store for some last minute supplies.
They had three hours left.
“OK, so we need spray paint, plastic swords, candy, bubbles, fabric and hats. What else?” Harris said.
“Girls, who wants to be the Rose to my Jack?” Moore asked.
Harris rolled her eyes.
“This isn’t “Titanic”, Jordan. It’s “The Little Mermaid,” Harris said.
On the house’s back deck, Jack, Bowen’s four-month-old Golden Retriever, yelped and whined. Perhaps his distress stemmed from the cone of shame around his perky head (a result of his recent neutering procedure), or perhaps he was warning the students that they were running out of time.
Jack was politely ignored. The team was busy bantering about what to buy at the craft store.
“What about confetti poppers?” Lemmer asked.
“No,” Harris said. “We’re not doing that.”
“I’m the king of the world!” Medlin shouted from the pirate ship’s platform as he gripped the ship’s wheel.
It was going to be a long afternoon.
Homecoming week was packed with events.
Every day, except Wednesday, had a game in which the Greek teams were expected to compete. Various other events accompanied the games, including a weeklong blood drive, a soda can tab donation and the construction of a USF Spirit sculpture. These events were ongoing, and teams were given sign-in points for each event in which a member participated.
“It’s just kind of a lot,” Harris said.
Although the homecoming week consists largely of competitions, teams remain friendly with one another.
“It’s nothing dramatic,” elementary education major and Gamma Phi Beta sorority member Amanda Carlton said. “You get to bond with someone you wouldn’t normally work with.”
At the end of homecoming week, points were tallied and winners were announced. The categories included overall placement and individual competition placements.
“Sigma Nu is really good at intramurals,” finance major and Gamma Phi sister, Shelby Fouts-Harley said.
Lemmer said their team, The Fuzzy Wombats, spent around $450 on their “Little Mermaid” float, which was entirely homemade. Essential materials included large particleboards, gallons of green paint and fabric for decorations and costumes.
“We put a lot of work into it, so at this point we want to win,” Harris said. “It’d be awesome if we did, but it’s not the end of the world.”
The staging area on Holly Drive was buzzing with school spirit.
The gold dresses of the Sun Dolls sparkled in the setting sun as the Herd of Thunder band tapped on their snares. Professional floats boasted bright paint jobs, permanent props and loud music. The homemade floats were waiting next to their manufactured competitors. Everyone was gearing up to go.
The parade was in an hour.
The Wombat’s float was hooked up to the trailer-hitch on Bowen’s white Chevrolet truck. A Sigma Nu flag flapped proudly from a pipe on the ship’s bow. There were two fishnets draped on the sides of the 10-foot-tall trailer construction, named “The S.S. Fuzzy Wombats.”
The team’s creation met all the required competition criteria: it was original, it fit USF’s fairy tale theme, the construction was sturdy and it was decked out in all green and gold paint. There was only one component missing from the team’s float – the members of the Fuzzy Wombats. No one accompanied the float.
There was 15 minutes to show time.
The sidewalks on Holly and Maple Drive were peppered with an audience of students, alumni and everyone in-between.
The parade was rolling along the road covered in Laffy Taffy and cheap strings of beads. Children leapt for their lives to catch the flying treats.
The party music and cheers of “Go Bulls” filled the air with school spirit.
It was 8 p.m. and the parade was almost over.
Then, around the corner cruised “The Little Mermaid” crew. The Delta women and Sigma men were cheering and grinning.
“The S.S. Fuzzy Wombats” made it after all. Their float was not the best looking one, but it was there. And for that, they were proud.
Friday night of Homecoming week is probably the most hectic. There is so much going on all at once: the carnival is up and running, crowds line the streets to watch the parade and then file across Palm Drive to watch a concert. There is a line of cars trying to make it to the various parking lots and people are crossing the streets from all directions. From a by-stander’s point of view, it’s a recipe for disaster.
To handle this much chaos, the USF Police Department start preparing months ahead.
“We collaborate with various entities on campus in preparation for it,” Assistant Chief Chris Daniel said. “As the week approaches we start looking at staffing. We require all officers to be available.”
There are 52 officers on staff at USF, but during large events, such as Homecoming, the Temple Terrace Police Department steps in to offer additional resources.
While students, alumni and faculty are relaxing and enjoying the various events, some USF Police officers are riding around on bikes patrolling the campus grounds making sure attendants are staying safe.
The biggest issue of Homecoming is the concert. Because the concert is open to the public, people not affiliated with the university attend and this has caused some problems in the past.
“We don’t have control of access,” Daniel said. “There’s no checkpoints around the event. We just have to deal with what occurs instead of trying to prevent.”
And this year would be no different from past Homecomings. The university police had to remove a few people from the concert for disorderly conduct and there was one arrest.
“A student who took a fire extinguisher and discharged it throughout the crowd and then ran from police when we tried to catch him.” Daniel said
The university police have also had issues concerning the people who attend the parade. They run out in front of the floats to cross the street or to pick up the goodies that have been thrown.
“Often times the person driving the float can’t see that well and there’s always a risk of somebody getting hurt,” Daniel said.
To help with this problem the USF Police Department has officers riding on bikes alongside the floats, and officers, dressed in safety-green vests, standing in the intersection of Bull Run Drive and Alumni Drive directing cars, people and floats, making sure all get across the intersection safely.
University police officer Frank Wassenberg, who was riding a bike patrolling the campus Friday night, said so far everything has gone smoothly.
For many USF students Homecoming week is an exciting time. A time to relax and enjoy the array of festivities. But for USF’s Police Department it’s a time of working long hours and making sure all in attendance stay safe.
“Homecoming is a great event,” Daniel said. “It’s taxing on our resources, but it’s only one week out of the year that we’re in this position, so it’s very manageable.”