Dear Association of American Universities,
The leaders of our University declared their desire to become a part of your prestigious organization when they announced their five-year plan earlier this school year. Our leaders acknowledges the ambitiousness of the goal. It is a great aspiration to join the elite company of schools such as Harvard and Brown.
By suggesting that they would like to reach that level of academic success, they are asking you to overlook certain aspects of their institution. The first strike you will most likely notice if you are to consider USF for membership is the age of the school. At 51 years old, USF has been in existence for less time than a majority of your members have been associated with the AAU. It is our administration’s hope that you will look past that number and instead examine the great progress the school has made in its short existence.There are other legitimate requirements the University is lacking, but it does intend to meet your minimum requirements as soon as possible. Take, for instance, USF’s new policy that would require freshmen to live on campus. While the statistical product may appear to be a step toward membership, what you won’t see is the dangerous line USF is walking regarding student safety.
Before any more money should be set aside for new residence halls or architectural firms, it must be noted that USF currently is working with a notably under-funded and undermanned police force that is already stretched thin.
As USF is one of the largest universities in the nation, the administration has a responsibility to its students to provide a safe environment for learning and research, but they seem to keep dropping the ball.
Though USF is located on the edge of a major metropolitan community, with an open campus, administrators seem reluctant to provide the money University Police needs to recruit and retain officers. Three local police forces all offer better salaries and benefits and provide opportunities for a raise.
If you want a university that is focused, look no further than USF.
This semester, USF has been in contract negotiations with the Police Benevolent Association. USF has proved to be incredibly successful at ignoring outcries from local media and politicians who feel the school is unsafe. The talks have dried up and are reportedly nearing an impasse. In the meantime, while USF attempts to convince the PBA that it is seriously considering their offers, patrol officers are leaving for greener pastures, making an already difficult situation even more precarious.
Bicycle thieves stole dozens of bicycles at the beginning of the semester because there was too much paperwork and not enough officers to properly patrol bike racks.
A serial rapist was arrested within two miles of campus for crimes committed in the community surrounding the University. Last week, three people in their late 30s with no affiliation to the University were arrested with a cache of narcotics in their van.
To provide a semblance of concern for safety, USF entered a contract agreement with AlliedBarton to provide unarmed security guards on campus. Weaponless and unable to make arrests, these guards will be able to call the existing police force only in an emergency situation.
While this may appear to be a result of concern for student safety, the security guards are only a Band-aid trying to cover a much larger wound.
But if there is any ray of hope USF can boast about when it comes to its police force, it’s that you need not worry about a student being Tasered in front of a major politician, as happened at AAU member University of Florida.
Our police force can’t afford Tasers.
The Oracle Editorial Board