Vanessa Rushing, 22, is going to add letters to her name when she graduates from USF’s nursing program this spring.
Ever since she was a little girl, Rushing knew that she was going to become a nurse. Growing up with two older sisters who were also nurses, she never envisioned herself as anything else.
When Rushing was 8-years-old, doctors diagnosed her with familial hypophosphatemic rickets. Her health caused her to be in and out of Shriners Hospital until she was 18-years-old. Being surrounded by nurses made Rushing’s career path even clearer.
Originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, she didn’t want to stray too far from home when choosing which college to attend. She put USF high on her list since it is home to one of the best nursing programs in the state.
Rushing joined a sorority on campus during her second semester at USF. Being a member of Gamma Phi Beta helped to create her best memories of college.
“My favorite part about coming to college and coming to USF was definitely joining my sorority, Gamma Phi,” Rushing said. “I met so many amazing women through it. I live with two of my sisters now and great memories are made every day.”
Rushing’s best advice for new students is to get involved as soon as possible.
“You meet a ton of people through getting involved, whether it be from a sorority, a fraternity or any other organization,” Rushing said. “You make connections and form really awesome bonds that way. Your whole college experience from that point on is just 10 times better.”
The friends she had made in her sorority and classes helped Rushing through the hardest time of her life.
“My worst experience at USF was my sophomore year, after my dad passed away,” Rushing said. “It was a really tough semester. I was just applying to the nursing program, so I had all that stress on me at that end. Losing a parent is really hard and really difficult to go through, especially when you’re at such a young age.”
A college student’s nightmare became a reality for Rushing.
“It became harder to keep up my grades,” Rushing said. “He was my biggest support system.”
She didn’t let her dark days keep her from reaching her goals. She became more motivated to make her dad proud of her.
“I feel like I would subconsciously make myself work harder,” Rushing said. “Just to make sure I was doing him justice and make him feel proud.”
Rushing is going to make her dad proud as she walks across the stage in May. She will be taking her exam to become an official registered nurse soon after. Her goal is to work on either the pediatric floor, the emergency room or the pediatric ER.
Her friends who have known her all throughout college are cheering her on. They know Rushing is following the correct career path. Nicole Keesee has been friends with Rushing since their freshman year at USF.
“Vanessa will make an absolutely amazing nurse because of how much she truly cares for other people and how selfless she is,” Keesee said. “She is always putting others before herself and I think that is such an important quality to have when entering the medical field.”
In this news brief: A 14 year old girl is arrested for making threats at her school. The Florida Highway Patrol is helping Haines City schools stay safe. The city of Tampa got involved by celebrating local women for Women’s History Month. Researchers at the University of South Florida have discovered Pablo Picasso’s long-lost plan to build a sculpture on campus.
With the rising popularity of boba, it’s no surprise that people can now enjoy a spot for the delicious dessert beverage near the University of South Florida.
Chewy Boba Co. opened its doors Jan. 11. It’s located at 2572 E. Fowler Ave., which is only a mile away from the university.
“We already have five stores in Orlando, Florida, and one in Las Vegas,” said Steven Page, the manager of Chewy Boba Co. “This is a great location. We get a lot of traffic from Chipotle and then the shopping center here is really good too.”
Boba is a Taiwanese tea-based delicacy made from tapioca. Visitors can choose from an exotic menu that showcases flavors such as jasmine, mango, passion fruit and ginger honey.
“Our most popular are Thai and taro, and original milk tea and honeydew. ” said Page. “Those are the ones we have on tap. We also have other popular flavors like our blended specialties such as California Dreamin’.”
The shop also offers an assortment of macarons to complement the boba.
As customers enter the store, they are brought into a unique atmosphere filled with various pieces of art, books, board games and arcade cabinets. There are several tables and couches for people to sit and relax.
One of the favorite arcade games for customers to play is Dance Dance Revolution.
“The DDR machine, when it’s going, gets people in here all the time trying to play that,” said Page.
Customers can also participate in video game contests during certain weekends. Page described it as a great way to hang out and make some new friends.
“We have tournaments that we run for fighting games every other Friday, and then we have ‘Smash Bros.’ tournaments every other Saturday as well,” he said. “There’s no small spaces, people aren’t cramping together, everyone can walk around, it’s really great.”
Chewy Boba Co. displays a variety of artwork inside its store, which helps create a fun, modern environment.
Some of the art portrays “Star Wars” characters such as Chewbacca and Boba Fett. One of the founders of the company, Quan Vu, explained that the similarity between the name of the store and the movie was merely a coincidence.
“I’m an artist by trade, graphic designer, animator, illustrator and I do video productions,” he said. “I just came up with a few characters that kind of intertwined with the whole Boba thing and it worked out good.”
Vu originally started his business in 2002 as a trademark license under a different company. He was unsatisfied with how that company ran itself, which led him to creating his own business.
“They weren’t providing,” said Vu. “So, we decided that we would just switch over completely and start our own brand.”
Vu hopes Chewy Boba Co. will become a staple of the USF community. The store’s manager believes that it’s well on its way.
“We actually encourage USF students, they get a 10 percent discount,” said Page. “Students come in here all the time looking to study and kind of just hanging out. We got chill music all day.”
Alfred Sheffield, 66, recalls his childhood in Progress Village. Courtesy of Samantha Nieto.
Progress Village has been a nostalgic childhood home for one resident, who remembers a better time for the neighborhood even though the area’s recent value has seemed to diminish.
Alfred Sheffield moved back to Progress Village, after living in California for over 20 years, to take care of his mother because she had Alzheimer’s. He has acquired his childhood home and remains in the old community.
Progress Village has depreciated, compared with the surrounding complexes that are now being built. It is not as spacious, nor does it look as nice as it used to because so many people have moved in over the decades.
Previously, the houses in the community were all on large lots and similarly built. Which made for more space around each residence.
“It [the village] became depressed. It doesn’t look nearly as nice as it looked many years ago when we moved into the village,” Sheffield said. “It’s kind of sad to see that, because it really was a great community at one time, but just leaves a bit to be desired now.”
Sheffield, 66, began life in Progress Village in 1960. He was nine. His family bought a house in the neighborhood when it was first being constructed.
Jeanette Abrahamsen is a communications professor at the University of South Florida. She and her advanced reporting class teamed up with WUSF to showcase stories from the long-standing community.
“People are proud of this community, but there is also just difficult things they have been through,” Abrahamsen said.
Sheffield explained that over the decades, the village experienced many financial up and downs. Families were seriously affected by disappearance of unions and many people lost their jobs.
The community was established in the late 1950’s to provide affordable housing for black members of Hillsborough County, according to the University of South Florida’s library records.
The village was developed as a model community that would offset major displacements caused by redevelopment in predominantly black neighborhoods.
It grew under the responsibility of local leaders, including C. Blythe Andrews, Cody Fowler, James Hargrett, Sr., and Perry Harvey, Sr. Amongst others, they comprised the original Board of Trustees for Progress Village, Inc.
The Sheffield family moved to Progress Village from Tampa’s Central Park. A sub-section that was an urban area with low-cost housing, which no longer exists.
“Well, I know my mother was very excited. She loved it,” Sheffield said. “I remember how enthusiastic she was about the house, and having our first house like that. It was great.”
Adjusting to the country life came easy for him and his family. They were open to their new way of life.
“I’ve never lived in an environment like that. In no time, I was away from the house and exploring the neighborhood as a 9-year-old,” Sheffield said.
During Sheffield’s time at Progress Village, he learned about life in the country and the importance of a close community.
More than fifty years after Sheffield first moved, Progress Village still stands as a viable example of cooperative neighborhood development and public enterprise.
“I wonder how my life would have been like had we not moved,” Sheffield said. “But I understand now, of course, that that move was better for us as a family.”
Whether it’s on or off campus, it’s not unusual to know of a sexual violence incident. Fortunately, most college campuses offer resources for sexual violence victims who feel like they have nowhere to turn.
At USF there are free and confidential resources available to help students who have experienced sexual violence. Students also receive certain rights when attending on-campus counseling.
According to Student Eligibility and Rights of USF’s Counseling Center, “All currently registered USF students who have paid the Tampa campus student health fee are eligible for Counseling Center services. Students have a right to professional and ethical services at the Counseling Center. Students have a right to a respectful therapeutic relationship without physical, sexual, verbal, or other abuse.”
Below is a video from the USF Counseling Center website explaining what they do.
Located at SVC 2124, the USF Counseling Center has counselors who are trained to help students with whatever they are going through. Once the student fills out an application at the counseling center, he or she will be provided with an available counselor. After the student has signed up for counseling, he or she can make appointments with their counselor.
According to the USF Counseling Center website, “The Counseling Center offers comprehensive psychological services to help students navigate the challenges of college life and take advantage of opportunities for personal growth.”
The Counseling Center is available for students who are currently enrolled in classes. They offer ways for patients to solve their problems, learn new skills and new insights or perspectives on how they can cope with their issue or trauma.
As stated by the USF Counseling Center’s website, their mission is, “To promote the well being of the campus community by providing culturally sensitive counseling, consultation, prevention, and training that enhances student academic and personal success.”
Whether it be for an individual, a couple, or a group in need of help, the center offers different types of counseling. For the couples counseling, both must be registered USF students to receive the free consultation. Meanwhile, group counseling has several different groups someone can connect with.
The Counseling Center offers several types of group counseling including for LGBTQ students, for those coping with grief, for those dealing with body image, and for those in need of family counseling.
Another resource is USF’s Center for Victim Advocacy, which provides free and confidential services to USF students, faculty, and staff.
Photo from Center for Victim Advocacy website
As stated by the USF Center for Victim Advocacy, “We serve men, women, and people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expression who have experienced crime, violence or abuse on or off campus either recently or in the past.”
Photo from Center for Victim Advocacy website.
USF’s Center for Victim Advocacy attempts to empower survivors of crime, violence, or abuse by promoting the restoration of decision making, by advocating for their rights, and by offering support and resources. However, while there are counselors at USF’s Counseling Center, the Center for Victim Advocacy has advocates.
An advocate with the USF Center for Victim Advocacy is a professional who is trained to respond with compassion and expertise to the victims of crime, violence, and abuse. Which includes crisis intervention, advocacy and accompaniment, safety planning, academic and housing assistance, and nonjudgmental support to victims to help them get through the experience and regain control of their lives.
The Advocacy Center has different sources it uses to help victims who have experienced sexual violence including individual support, academic/university support, medical support, court support, reporting assistance and more. The center is there to help victims learn and understand the rights for the specific crime he or she is dealing with it.
The center provides advocates to victims for guidance every step of the way, in any way possible. The center’s website also gives information on a list of crimes which show how the advocates can explain and assist the clients with their personal experience of sexual violence.
The following is an interview provided by USF’s Counseling Center advocate Angela Candela:
“How long has the advocacy center been open?”
“For at least 10 years,” said Candela. “We’ve been open for a really long time.”
“What’s the process like when someone comes in?”
“If somebody wants our services the first step would be to schedule an appointment by walking into the office to schedule an appointment or you could call and schedule an appointment,” said Candela. “Then you receive an intake appointment with your advocate. They will have already looked at the paper and case file that you provided for them, then they will walk you through steps on what can be done and like to do”
“How many people come in on a weekly basis? Do you guys have a certain amount or is it random?”
“Its kind of random depending on the time of year, right now its busy during fall, slows down during spring and is dead during the summer. It really varies,” said Candela.
“What advice would you give to victims who have not gotten help or have not gone to an advocacy center or have just been very silent?”
“I would say that your best resource when you have experienced some type of crime would be an advocate. An advocate is really somebody that is there in your corner, that’s what we’re there for. We’re confidential, we’re not ever going to report anything. Its okay even if you were drinking underage at the time of the crime, we’re not going to judge you. We don’t care and are not going to tell on you or anything. All we are concern about is giving help to somebody who is a victim of a crime,” Candela said. “It’s scary, it’s not always easy. It takes a lot of bravery and strength to do so in the first place, to come out and say, ‘Hey I need help.’ If they feel like they can, I think it’s an amazing option.”
Photo by Megan Holzwarth
Both USF’s Victim Advocacy Center and Counseling Center are options that are available to students. Other options include the University Police Department (USFPD) and the Student Health Services which are available to USF students who would like to receive help.
Sexual violence can happen to students on or off campus. With this in mind, USF offers resources to students in need of a safe space. Everyone deserves to know his or her rights and what services are available for students.
Below is the full audio link with the interview with Angela Candela.
Two USF professors are trying to develop a program that will allow children to deal with their own problems anonymously.
Nathan Fisk, assistant professor of cybersecurity education in the USF College of Education, and Sriram Chellappan, associate professor in the USF department of computer science and engineering, received a grant for $498,333 from the National Science Foundation to research how to use metadata from the communications of children to provide early intervention and resources for possible problems the children might be facing. Fisk said they want to build a predictive model of distress.
“What we’re really looking to do with this particular project is talk to kids about how they prefer to be supervised, and how we can do supervision work and help guide them without violating their privacy,” Fisk said. “So we weren’t concerned as much with making another app or making an app at all that did the work of identifying cyberbullying. In some ways that’s not what we’re doing … we wanted to say we want to supervise kids, and kids kind of want supervision and guidance. They just also want privacy, and so how can we develop systems that can detect when kids are in some form of distress without violating their privacy.”
Their system will not collect message content. Instead, the two will gather metadata such as how many messages were received, what time they were received, whether or not they were replied to and other similar data points.
“We want to pick up data about the data, and then, so that way the privacy of the communication is also protected,” Chellappan said.
The idea behind the project, Fisk said, is that if someone is in trouble, their communication patterns will change predictably. Sometimes the best thing a child can have is a notification that provides resources for them to handle their problems, whether that’s notification of guidance counselors, parents, or law enforcement, or just links to web pages, Fisk said. Fisk and Chellappan want to talk to children to find out what they would prefer in a monitoring system.
“We can place into their hands the power to choose what to do and when if they have a problem,” Fisk said. “We’d like to protect their privacy, and we’d like to empower them to do what they feel are the appropriate next steps.”
The input of the children is also vital to Fisk and Chellappan because, they said, the children know better than adults what is a problem for them.
“We can’t just assume what those problems are, as we all too frequently do,” Fisk said.
For Chellappan and Fisk, this platform is all about protecting the privacy of the children.
“When people talk about cybersecurity in the past, privacy was always either you cared about it a little, or you never cared about it,” Chellappan said. “But now, privacy is becoming very, very important.”
The platform is designed to be completely anonymous, Fisk said. In addition to not collecting message content, their research will not collect phone numbers, names, or any other information that would identify the child.
“We don’t want to know anything about those things,” Fisk said. “We’re developing the platform specifically to make sure that we can’t know who they are.”
Chellappan and Fisk will collect metadata on communications from a sample size of about 1,000 middle school students. Fisk said they are looking to pull their sample from students in Pasco County, although he and Chellappan are discussing pulling from Hillsborough County as well. Fisk said the point where middle school students are in their lives made them the ideal candidates for the research.
“In middle school … you’re at a point in life where you’re starting to think about becoming an adult and being tired of being a younger kid with a lot more constraints,” Fisk said. “You can kind of see what’s going on in that adult world a little bit better, but you’re not there yet, and you’re not quite in that high school space where you have more freedoms, more access to power in the forms of jobs and cars and more easily accessible private spaces. So, you’re trapped in between those two worlds in a way that makes it harder to feel like you have any meaningful control over your own life.”
Before they get started, however, they have to lay out a lot of groundwork. They must develop the monitoring platform and the research platform, two separate applications. They also have to get approval from multiple layers of the International Review Board and gain parental permission for children participating in the study.
“It’s a long road,” Chellappan said. “It’s a very, very long road, and I only wish there were 48 hours in a day.”
Fisk said he would like to see this research platform be developed for use in social science spaces as a broader platform for any social scientist who wants to do research using metadata collection and survey analysis. He sees the potential for both platforms beyond this study. However, he said, their platform will never replace a child’s relationship with responsible adults to solve problems.
“At the end of the day … nothing is ever going to replace a strong, well-meaning relationship with trusted adults in the forms of parents and teachers who are going to be able to identify kids who are facing some kind of distress or abuse, but ideally this will be one more mechanism that will provide kids with a little bit more power when it comes to managing their own problems,” Fisk said.
In this news brief: A crash involving a school bus and a car injures six people; A “skimmer sweep” in Pasco County finds devices on pumps in three different gas stations.; Police search for man who stole money at a Sun City Center Publix; A new app helps make parking easier in Sarasota; Chi Alpha works to ship packages to Puerto Rico.
In this news brief: Tampa police respond to another deadly shooting in Seminole Heights; Zephyrhills police are investigating multiple gunshots fired at an officer’s cruiser and home; a skydiver is killed when his parachute fails to open; USF students visit Tallahassee for Day at the Capitol.
Adjunct teachers at USF are in the midst of a campaign since April to establish a union, but not without resistance from the administration.
Months of effort have culminated to a legal standstill as USF pushes to block a vote for adjuncts to unionize. Tenure-track faculty positions are becoming harder to find, adjunct professors are making up an increasingly important part of the academic workforce. They fill in gaps by teaching classes other faculty members can’t teach or accommodate for last-minute changes or additions of classes. USF is attempting to prevent adjunct faculty from unionizing on the grounds that they are temporary employees.
Adjuncts at USF submitted a petition to unionize to the state of Florida’s Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) in April. This petition was filed in conjunction with Faculty Forward, which is part of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
In pushing for this union, adjunct professors, Faculty Forward and SEIU say adjunct professors aren’t compensated properly for their work and that establishing an adjunct professor’s union will help establish a better standard of living for the professors.
USF responded to the petition with legal action, filing with the Florida PERC to block the petition. The USF board of trustees cited Florida Statute 447.307 in a statement in court documents submitted in September.
“Even if the Hearing Officer were to determine that the adjuncts in this case possess an expectation of continued employment, the petitioned-for unit would still be inappropriate, because the USF System adjuncts do not share in a community of interest, as required by (the statute),” the board wrote in the court documents.
In October, as reported in USF St. Petersburg’s The Crow, state hearing officer Lyyli Van Whittle recommended that the state PERC allow adjunct professors to vote to form a union, which Mike Ruso, an adjunct professor in the English department at USF, said is a step in the right direction.
“The wording of PERC’s decision is so unequivocal in its support for the adjuncts that a vote to form a union is now inevitable,” Ruso said. “The ruling is a major victory not just for us, but for adjuncts across the state because it sets a precedent that adjunct professors at all Florida universities have the legal right to unionize.”
While they waited for the PERC to make a decision, adjuncts demonstrated by sitting in on a USF board of trustees meeting and then walking out, marching through the Marshall Student Center and protesting in front of the building on Oct. 12.
Since the PERC recommended order, the board of trustees has filed 17 exceptions to the terms of the union vote, which will delay the process of unionization for adjuncts. Caught in a legal battle, the vote cannot happen until the PERC issues its final order.
Faculty Forward and adjuncts sent an email response to the exceptions put forth by USF.
“Due to this change the organizing committee will be changing strategies,” Faculty Forward wrote in the email. “Adjuncts will be deterred, but only will take this time to recalibrate and shift into a better, stronger position.”
The board of trustees at USF does not feel that a union for adjuncts is justified, as outlined in their court submissions. The Tampa Bay Times reports that USF officials are also worried about an adjunct union, not wanting to deal with a third party and concerned about upticks in costs and potential layoffs.
“Though they provide a valuable service in supporting the mission of the university, the USF System believes forming a union is not in the best interests of the adjuncts and continues to oppose this effort,” university spokesman Adam Freeman said in a statement.
According to a 2013 report from NPR about the death of an adjunct professor at Duquesne University, the typical adjunct professor in the United States earns between $20,000 and $25,000 a year. Ruso said the average adjunct is making $3,000 per class. According to information in court documents submitted to Florida PERC by USF, adjuncts at USF can earn from $2,600 to $12,000, depending on the department and the number of course hours. The course hours can range from three to 12. Adjuncts at USF say that these wages, along with the fact that adjuncts receive no benefits mean that they need a union, whether or not they are temporary employees.
Ruso joined the union movement earlier this year. As a graduate student, he read the Chronicle of Higher Education and the stories in the publication about adjuncts resonated with him.
“I read that they drove from campus to campus to teach six, seven or eight classes a semester,” Ruso said. “I read that they didn’t have health insurance. The whole business model of using adjuncts struck me as unjust.”
Ruso said he is still proud to teach at USF but thinks the treatment of adjuncts needs to change.
“I take a lot of pride when I tell someone that I’m a professor at USF, but I don’t think we can truly be a great institution if we have 600 professors who are being exploited, many of whom are living in poverty,” Ruso said.
However, change in the form of voting for a union will have to wait until the PERC gives its ruling.
In this news brief: Jury selection in a quadruple murder trial begins; A Tampa woman is injured in an early morning shooting; The University of South Florida holds its first annual “Slut Walk”; Tampa International Airport is growing, adding 69 new shops; Dave and Buster’s opens its first in Tampa.
It was 1976 when journalist Ralph Lowenstein became the third dean of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. It was during his time there that he foretold the future of print.
“Print on paper is dead,” said Lowenstein. He predicted that classified advertising would evaporate completely from the printed pages. Not only did he correctly predict classified advertising, but he also predicted that electronic communication would become the new wave.
Now, 41 years later, Lowenstein is sharing his wisdom with future journalists and editors at the University of South Florida (USF).
In an intimate setting inside the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications, Lowenstein stood in front of students and faculty, and spoke on his past experiences in journalism. Lowenstein spoke numerous times on the history of newspapers during his lecture.
Several issues were discussed during his two-part lecture. Part one focused on Lowenstein’s early adult years, education and co-writing the book, “Viva Journalism: The Triumph of Print in the Media Revolution.” He also shared valuable lessons he learned as a young journalist in an era when newspapers dominated how people obtained their news.
Even though he predicted the future of electronic newspapers, Lowenstein also spoke on how they can become better.
“One problem with the electronic newspaper is it’s not really readable,” Lowenstein said. “When you go into it, you want to know what the latest news is. You don’t want to know what happened 12 hours ago or 15 hours ago and that’s what you’re getting.”
Lowenstein explained to guests how classifieds were the “bread and butter” of the newspaper. Advertisements brought in most of the newspapers daily income. Once news became more popular electronically, advertisements began to slowly decline. Lowenstein believes electronic newspapers have failed to include ads successfully.
“Advertising is news in certain circumstances,” he said. “I think people really do want advertising.”
Another problem with most electronic newspapers, according to Lowenstein, is the death of the gatekeeper.
Lowenstein explained that gatekeepers determine what does or does not go into the newspaper. In his youth, gatekeepers made the newspapers readable and factual. There were fewer reporting errors back when newspapers used them. Today there are too many errors that could be avoided if media outlets had the much needed gatekeeper.
In Lowenstein’s opinion, there is a lack of professionalism in the world of journalism. How do we become more professional with journalism as a whole? According to Lowenstein, it goes back to having a gatekeeper.
“Many newspapers have locked off a lot of the editors [out] of the way so the information goes from the reporter into the newspaper,” said Lowenstein. “It’s a horrible thing to see.”
Part two of Lowenstein’s lecture opened up with the latest trending topic in the media: Richard Spencer.
Recently the University of Florida allowed Spencer to hold a speech despite the belief to many of him being a white supremacist. UF students and Gainesville citizens showed up to his speech and protested against him and his followers.
This part of Lowenstein’s lecture allowed students to be more engaged. He opened up the discussion by informing students about the First Amendment and its exceptions. He then asked students whether it should protect everyone – including white supremacists and “hardcore racists.”
Lowenstein even shared his opinion about the event and how UF could have handled the situation differently.
“The university really acted improperly,” he said. “My feelings are pretty strong about that.”
The Richard Spencer topic left many in the room wondering how they would have reported the story if they were in attendance of the event. Journalist have a job to do, but how much coverage should media outlets give a figure like Spencer?
Both students and professors gave their opinions on the subject matter. There seemed to be a mutual agreement that it’s important to cover all angles of the story no matter the position of the reporter.
“It was never really in the paper properly,” said Lowenstein. “I think there were who defended his right to speak…those were the people who were quoted. There were no people like me who would not defend his right to speak.”
The lecture wrapped up by lunch with Lowenstein taking photos and sharing advice with students.
In this news brief: The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrests twenty unlicensed contractors in “Operation Nailed”; a carjacking turns deadly for the would be thief; the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrests hundreds people in “Operation No Tricks, No Treats”; new Florida drivers licenses are rolling out across the state.
In the news brief: Florida senator proposes statewide ban on bump stocks; gas prices are finally going back down after hurricanes Harvey and Irma; Hernando deputies are on the search for a runaway sexual predator; HART will make transit easier; USF doctors are heading to Puerto Rico to help with hurricane Irma relief.
TAMPA – Dozens of students showed up at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza Thursday in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, commonly known as DACA.
In 2012, former President Barack Obama issued an executive order that prevented deportation of children under the age of 16 who immigrated to the United States illegally. While DACA is not a permanent solution for those who are eligible to apply, it gives them more time to work or receive an education in the United States. According to Pew Research Center, an estimated 790,000 unauthorized immigrants have been protected under DACA.
Last week, President Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, announced that the administration will end the program in six months. As of now, no new DACA applications will be considered.
Trump’s presidential campaign focused on decreasing the number of immigrants to the United States, along with deporting those who are not here legally. Almost immediately after being sworn in, Trump began to follow through on his promise to be tough on undocumented immigrants.
Since the DACA announcement, congressional Democrats have been scrambling to make a deal in order to protect DACA immigrants from deportation.
Many DACA recipients are now in college, and they fear that they may be deported before being able to finish their education. Stephanie Garza, one of the organizers for the on campus DACA rally, explains why Session’s announcement is personal for some USF students.
“We know that here at USF, the estimate is between 70-100 DACA students are part of the USF community,” said Garza.
Several organizations helped plan and support the event, including College Democrats, Mi Familia Vota, For Our Future and UndocUnited. Students like Jose Flores who participated in the event wanted to show the Trump administration that college campuses support DACA students.
“We wanted to show that the community will organize and protect their own, and you know, just basically show that USF opposes the decision,” said Flores. “We hope that if other people follow in our footsteps, or, you know, we all come together, if other universities have their rallies too, together we’ll, you know, amplify our voices and we’ll be heard.”
The issue of immigration hits close to home with many people who attended the event.
“Personally, I know a lot of people who are immigrants, documented, undocumented, and you know, I see how their lives could change if something was passed, and how their lives are different than other people’s because sometimes they don’t have the same opportunities as those people,” said Michelle Joseph, who is with the organization Mi Familia Vota. “So, we’re here to support the passing of the DREAM Act, and that would mean that people would get to live normal lives kind of thing, not worry about whether they’re going to be kicked out of the country kind of thing.”
Different people spoke during the event, some of whom will be directly affected by the elimination of DACA.
“My favorite part was that some people felt empowered enough to go up and speak, even though they were not listed to speak, you know, they were motivated enough to come out and say a few words,” said Flores. “Each person that comes up and speaks up only adds to the slew of voices that are coming up, that are speaking out against this kind of you know, behavior, actions from the administration.”
DACA recipients will be in limbo until Congress decides if it is going to instate a new program to help young unauthorized immigrants. Some are trying to renew their DACA before the Oct 5. deadline set by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Applying for a renewal, however, does not ensure that they will be able to stay in the United States for the remainder of their DACA eligibility if Congress fails to create a new program.
For many, this is frustrating and alarming.
“If you’re not upset, if you’re not enraged, then you’re not paying attention,” said Flores.
As Hurricane Irma threatened the state of Florida, there was a feeling of unease for some USF students and Tampa residents.
Tampa homeowners and businesses boarded up their windows and stood by while the storm made landfall in the Keys as a Category 4.
In the days before landfall, students on the USF class Facebook pages expressed concern and speculated about classes being canceled. USF Dean of Students Danielle McDonald first communicated to students the possible effects of the hurricane on Sept. 5, writing that decisions about campus closures would not be made until later in the week.
The following day, McDonald told students campus would be closed for the rest of the week and through the weekend. As days passed and Irma’s path shifted, more communications were provided. Florida Gov. Rick Scott mandated that state offices and schools close Sept. 8-11. USF canceled classes Sept. 7-13.
Throughout this time, USF Tampa decided not to evacuate students living on campus.
“We are not in a flood zone and are further away from the coastal areas,” McDonald said in an email to students. ” … I hope to reassure you that the campus and our surrounding neighborhoods, where most of you live, is considered safer than other areas.”
In the time leading up to the storm, USF communicated with students to educate them on precautions to take and ways to prepare. McDonald included tips for hurricane preparation in an email to students. USF also has a page dedicated toemergency preparation.
However, as Irma approached, some students living on campus became nervous for their safety despite reassurance from the university.
Taira Zavala, a senior at USF, chose to go with her family to Texas to wait out the storm.
This is Zavala’s first year living in off-campus housing. She waited until Saturday night to finally evacuate. The days leading up to the storm took quite a toll on her, she said.
“I was incredibly stressed the week before the hurricane,” Zavala said. “I could not help but think that I should evacuate … My anxiety was just so terrible and I knew if I stayed it would only get worse. The storm was not as bad as I anticipated, but for my mental state it was the right move.”
Zavala questioned the timeline of campus communications and cancellations at USF.
“I definitely feel that they could have made the decisions in a timelier manner,” Zavala said. “I know many students that evacuated so I think it would have been the right move to close down the school for the remainder of that week.”
Zavala was not the only student to leave USF ahead of Hurricane Irma. Dillon Sunderland, a junior at USF, decided to evacuate the Wednesday before the hurricane hit Florida.
“This was the first time I have experienced a major threat on campus,” Sunderland said. “I felt unsafe in my [off campus] apartment because of the lack of storm windows, and the fact that I’m on the first floor, so flooding was a concern.”
Sunderland has been living in campus housing for over a year. He may have felt unsafe in his USF affiliated apartment, but Sunderland said he thinks that USF handled the emergency well.
“They closed school early enough to allow people to evacuate,” Sunderland said.
USF System President Judy Genshaft released a video about the impact of Irma on USF. She spoke of the efforts of USF faculty housing and feeding students that stayed on campus for the storm. She said almost 800 people were housed in the Sun Dome, which is a special needs shelter for Hillsborough County, during Irma. Genshaft said she was proud that USF could keep so many people housed and fed during the storm.
The International Solar Energy Society (ISES) hosted their third annual solar fair at the University of South Florida on March 21 in hopes to educate the community on solar energy.
The event included free food, informational seminars about solar panels and tours of the on campus Flex house and solar panel field for the community.
Rick Garrity, an environmental scientist, estimates the payback on the amount of money owed by individuals for solar panels lies around eight years.
“Between 0 years and 8 years the payments are paying off the system but you are getting the electricity, so your energy bills from the Tampa electric company have gone down by a significant amount,” Garrity said.
USF student and vice president of ISES, Kahveh Saramout, plans on including more activities in the future for the solar fair.
“We think the solar fair went very well but we definitely have higher ambitions for next year,” Saramout said. “We want to have a tour that encompasses a larger part of Tampa, hopefully with busses that shuttle us around to different TECO power plants.”
ISES member Nicholas Hall felt that one of the most memorable moments of the solar fair included guest speaker and USF professor Dr. Goswami.
“He introduced the solar energy fair by himself he was one of the most revered speakers. Many of the vendors that showed up actually knew him and are very proud of the work that he has done in the community,” Hall said.
Keep an eye out for next year’s solar fair with even more activities and fun for the entire family.
The USF Ice Bulls make nationals for the first time in program history.
The University of South Florida Ice Bulls had a rough season, ending 10-18 before entering regionals. USF capitalized on two major games during the regular season, beating two top seeded teams.
Thanks to freshman goalie, Sam Coleman, who 60 minutes into the game blocked all incoming shots, the Bulls knocked out the University of South Carolina Gamecocks 1-0 in overtime in the first round of regionals at Florida Center Ice in Wesley Chapel.
The following night, the Bulls earned a nationals spot defeating the Liberty University Flames 6-3. Weston Moon scored the first goal early in the first period, followed by goals from Logan Sheehan in the middle of the second, Kenny Weightman late in the second, Huw Baveystock early in the third, Lukas Medo late in the third, and Michael Budd in the last minute of regulation.
Earning their place at nationals the Bulls had one more hurdle to overcome. In an attempt to cover the costs of the trip they started a GoFundMe page and asked fans for support. They did not disappoint, the Ice Bulls fans raised over $11,000.
The following night, the Bulls earned a nationals spot defeating the Liberty University Flames 6-3. Weston Moon scored the first goal early in the first period, followed by goals from Logan Sheehan in the middle of the second, Kenny Weightman late in the second, Huw Baveystock early in the third, Lukas Medo late in the third, and Michael Budd in the last minute of regulation.
Nationals will be held at Nationwide Arena, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team will travel to Columbus, Ohio to fight for the title of the American Collegiate Hockey Association division 3 national champions.
The Bulls will take on the number one seeded Calvin College Knights on March 14 to start their postseason.
To find out more on how you can support your USF hockey team on their road to nationals, visit www.gofundme.com/USFHockey.
On Jan. 17, the USFSP Kate Tiedemann College of Business opened Lynn Pippenger Hall in St. Petersburg, a $30 millionfacility.
The building was named after St. Petersburg resident and former Raymond James Financial Inc. executive, Lynn Pippenger, who donated $5 million to the St. Petersberg campus in 2016 prompting USFSP to honor her.
The four-story, 68,000 square foot building has meeting spaces, over 20 classrooms and a 200 seat auditorium.
“It’s pretty awesome because after I’m leaving class I’m able to come up here and just you know, study and relax,” student Mike Singleton said. “It’s a very comfortable building rather than just being in the library.”
Dean of the Kate Tiedemann College of Business, Sridhar Sundaram, believes the building can create an impact on the St. Petersburg community.
“The community has walked in and said ‘Wow, this is a beautiful facility,'” Sundaram said.
“As we have more and more events we are going to be a resource for them but they also take great pride in having this building in their downtown.”
The facility is home to 1,300 students and 60 faculty members and is hosting various events for the community throughout this year.