Letters to the Editor

USF acted irresponsible in delayed hurricane decision

Compassion absent from USF’s decision

In times of disaster and need, university provision and encouragement are essential. However, late Sunday night, after Hurricane Jeanne swept through the Tampa Bay area, an announcement was made. USF resolved to stay open Monday, because of no extensive strain or damage to university property. However, I feel the students, staff and faculty have been neglected in this decision.

On Monday morning, I found Hurricane Jeanne’s shadow still lurking about the campus. As I walked to my office, I found myself dodging ceiling leaks and carpet damage. Down the hall, in a professor’s office, water-damaged ceiling tiles gave in, saturating his desk contents and student files. Others have tried to save damaged books and dampened office supplies — but alas, printer paper just doesn’t want to work after it’s been wet. Unfortunately, most of these items will end up in the trash bin, along with family photos, posters and nostalgia.

As I made the rounds to assess the damage of my fellow employees, I grew more upset. Stories were told of staff and faculty left without electricity and with considerable damage to their homes and property. Some claim they should have stayed home Monday to clean up, buy ice bags for the freezer in hopes of salvaging some food and gather branches from their driveways and shingles from their rooftops. And finally, once the electricity decides to grace our staff from Polk County, they will have to boil their own water or will soon be taking sick leave. Because all county schools are closed, some have stayed home because of their children. Others we have not yet heard from. I hope fellow colleagues and students are well.

University support is already underdeveloped, but in times like these, Sunday’s official statement will not suffice: “We hope you and your family are well and that your homes survived Hurricane Jeanne.”

I suggest a more appropriate university-wide announcement:

“Students, staff and faculty: We understand the hardships you have faced through the past four storms. It has been a grueling six weeks and your continuous cooperation has not gone unnoticed. As a result, we would like to give everyone a ‘day of repair.’ All University of South Florida campuses will be closed on Monday for the purposes of family, safety and wellbeing.”

Note: All Tampa city offices and libraries are closed. St. Petersburg College, along with Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk county schools are also closed.

Alicia DeFonzo is a program assistant in the graduate department of mass communications.

USF’s handlingof crisis infuriating

I am just a little peeved at USF right now. Well, maybe peeved is not the right word. More like outraged.

According to the USF news Web page, “the USF campuses at Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota/Manatee all have electricity and no significant damage to buildings that would warrant canceling classes. (…) All classes will be held, and faculty and staff are asked to report for work as usual.”

Whoever made that decision must have a heart of stone. Just because the USF campuses are OK doesn’t mean everyone else is. I have a dear friend in Lakeland who commutes to Tampa, and she can barely get out of her neighborhood because of flooding and fallen trees.

Since she has no electricity, she can’t e-mail her professor a paper that is due today. So, despite dangerous driving conditions, she will attempt to come to classes today. That’s assuming they aren’t canceled. One of my classes for today has been canceled because the professor is in Tennessee and can’t get a flight back to Florida. Another class of mine was canceled, but I only found that out once I arrived on campus and saw my empty classroom.

Most likely, the teacher lost electricity and was unable to get in touch with the students to cancel class.

The same faulty reasoning the Emergency Operations Committee used in deciding to open the school on Sept. 8 — when Fowler Avenue was still underwater thanks to Hurricane Frances — was used again in making their cold, unfeeling statement last night. If the leaders at this university truly care about the wellbeing of the students, staff and faculty, they will hopefully use more common sense and compassion in the future.

Angela Infante is a senior majoring in professional and technical writing.

Jeanne warranted day of recuperation

As Hurricane Jeanne approached, my family on the East Coast of Florida made preparations to come to Tampa to escape it. They took me along to make sure that I was safe. The location I stayed at didn’t have a way to get any information on whether the campus would be open on Monday, but I figured that since they closed the campus for people to “recuperate” after Frances then they would do the same for Jeanne. After everything settled down and the storm had passed, a friend called me and read USF’s Web page to me: “The USF campuses at Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota/Manatee all have electricity and no significant damage to buildings that would warrant canceling classes.”

You can see that there was no thought put into the fact that there could be damage that was outside of USF’s comfy bubble of “safety.” This was the story in my case.

Trees and debris had fallen on the roads and debris was scattered everywhere.

I’m a first-year student and I chose this school because I heard that USF puts its students first. From my direct quote of USF’s homepage, you can see just what comes first to them.

Elizabeth Laliberte is a freshman majoring in psychology.

Situation in other areas not considered

This year’s hurricane season has been one of the worst in recent history. One would assume that a series of disasters such as this warrants special action on the part of USF administration to ease the troubles of thousands of students and faculty. A single day would go a long way to help return our lives to normal, but we are not afforded such luxuries.

I understand that the Emergency Operations Commotee concluded that the campuses were in good shape for operations. In fact, that was to be expected.

But campus is not the only aspect of student and faculty life that should have been taken into consideration regarding operations the day after a hurricane. In the future, I hope they take into account that maybe, just maybe, people living off campus have more important things to attend to than lectures.

As a homeowner, I have plenty of exterior damage to attend to; never mind that I have yet to have electricity restored. May I tend to my damaged house? No. I must attend class during this state of emergency, making the situation even more complicated.

In this time of emergency, I wanted to believe that the decision makers and leadership of USF would be compassionate and gracious. Instead, I find a blatant disregard for the wellbeing of the students and faculty.

James Fergerson is a senior majoring in computer engineering.

CIA and U.N. proven fallible, untrustworty

Elections in Iraq may or may not go as planned next January, but are we really going to take the CIA’s word for it? Or the United Nations’, for that matter?

Both of those organizations were sure that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and that is what instigated this war. If I were in President Bush’s position, I am not sure that I would heed their advice either.

Charles Frankulin Jr. is a sophomore majoring in general engineering.

Coverage of women’s sports fitting, justified

I read The Oracle every day, and I would like to say that I am very pleased with the coverage of women’s sports. A lot of newspapers feel that men dominate sports, and therefore only focus on male sports. Even The Tampa Tribune is guilty.

It is almost impossible to find women’s volleyball and softball scores or updates. The St. Petersburg Times does a little better, but not much.

I’m a big fan of volleyball and I am glad that just about every other day I can read about the USF volleyball team. I also like how you don’t focus on the negativity of the road game losses. The positive comments in Friday’s article “Road trip takes toll on volleyball team” made me think less of the losing streak and more of what is yet to come.

Erin Bruenn is a freshman majoring in elementary education.