Three hurricanes, and a threatening fourth, tore through Florida in the year’s later months, leaving in their wakes swaths of blown-over trees, pools of standing water, and sympathy visits from the president. Hurricane Frances forced USF to cancel classes, but when Jeanne rolled through, the decision was made to keep the university open, a choice that brought on criticisms from both faculty and students inconvenienced or left homeless by the storms. Hurricane Charley hit Florida before the start of the fall semester.
USPS employees vote to reform union (Sept. 20)
After a nearly two-year hiatus, the AFSMCE union (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) was reelected to represent the University Support Personnel System employees through collective bargaining. Out of 1625 eligible USF employees, 816 voted in the election, out of which 85 percent voted in support of the union. The union’s main purpose is to facilitate and lead negotiations between the university and its employees.
Two admissions officers forced out for altering test records (Sept. 24)
To increase USF’s median test scores, admissions officers Doug Hartnagel and Dewey Holleman deleted approximately 900 test scores from student records. The pair resigned after the university proposed their dismissal, following an audit showing test score alterations. About 500 SAT scores, between 760 and 1050, and 400 ACT scores, between 14 and 23, were removed.
Six tuition proposals go to governor for approval (Oct. 22)
Among six proposals submitted for approval to Gov. Jeb Bush were block tuition, a penalty fee for dropping more than one class a year and a 25 percent surcharge for credits beyond 110 percent of degree requirements. Board of Governors chairwoman Carolyn Roberts said the proposals are meant to decrease students’ time at public universities and facilitate adherence to earlier graduation dates, but critics claim the proposals place an unfair toll on students already struggling to afford the costs of college.
USF students rocked by voter registration scam (Oct. 26)
After a campus-wide scam, several students found themselves with a changed party affiliation only a few weeks before the election. After receiving new voter registration cards in the mail, students, most of whom thought they were signing petitions for causes such as stricter anti-molestation laws, found their party affiliation had been changed to Republican. A similar fraud was also carried out at UCF around the same time.
As the 2004 presidential election approached, politics brought a whirlwind of political activity through USF and the Bay Area. In October, former presidential candidate John Kerry made his second appearance at USF since June, speaking at a rally held in the Sun Dome. The same day, President Bush was also in the Bay Area, making a stop in St. Petersburg. Campus politicos also got involved, hosting a number of rallies in the run-up to Nov. 2.
With the politicians came their supporters, and with 2004’s politically charged atmosphere, a number of household names made stops at USF to stump for their candidate or party. Filmmaker Michael Moore, actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael J. Fox, historian Howard Zinn and CNN commentators Donna Brazil and Bay Buchanan passed through to speak their pieces to anyone willing to listen.
Cancer cuts Mosely’s season short (Nov. 15)
Men’s basketball senior guard Bradley Mosely, the only player to start in every game of the 2003-04 season, was diagnosed with renal cell cancer Nov. 8, causing him to miss the entire 2004-05 season for USF. Mosely, 21, was reported to begin treatment at the H. Lee Moffitt center during the semester, but the date was not clear.
Oracle Chief resigns (Nov. 22)
Former Oracle Editor in Chief Adam Becker chose to resign after it came to light that he plagiarized two stories from press releases issued by the USF News Web site. Becker oversaw production of The Oracle for the fall semester of 2004, and was replaced for the remainder of the semester by former Oracle Editor in Chief Stefanie Green until an election could be held to determine who would ascend to the position. The election occurred Dec. 9, with Thomas Pedicini receiving the majority of votes and the title of editor in chief.
BOT ratifies faculty contract (Dec. 3)
In December, after nearly two years of volatile disagreement, the USF Board of Trustees and United Faculty of Florida ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, bringing to an end negotiations marked by conflict and recurring impasses. Disputes over summer pay, merit-based raises and salary increases arose when the previous bargaining agreement expired on Jan. 7, 2003.