While you were away…

1 — Student Government dines on A&S fees — By Chris Wagenheim — July 14

Citing the need to reward and acknowledge the work of its members, Student Government dipped into the Activity & Services Fee fund to finance two exclusive SG-related events: a dinner cruise and a leadership retreat. The fund, which is financed entirely by fees levied on student tuition, is intended for the support and upkeep of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center, SG and its branches, Campus Recreation, the Campus Activities Board, the University Lecture Series, college councils and various student organizations. Approximately $2,800 was spent on the cruise, while $5,660 was needed to cover the costs of the retreat, making the total cost to students nearly $8,500.

2 — Administration retreats over police access to Greek housing — By Chris O’Donnell — June 30

After imposing an ultimatum that would have resulted in the eviction of noncompliant fraternities and sororities from the Greek Village, Residence Services withdrew a mandate requiring Greek organizations living in the Village to sign lease amendments allowing University Police officers to patrol common areas inside Greek housing. University representatives asserted that the amendment was necessary for enforcement of policies governing alcohol consumption on campus, while Greek organizations insisted that the domiciles were intended for private living and that any regulation allowing UP officers to enter at will would be incompatible with Greek life.

3 — Faculty union critical of pay raise delay — By Chris O’Donnell — July 11

Negotiations of annual faculty salary increases were delayed when USF officials stated that a February appellate court ruling cast doubt on whether or not the University’s Board of Trustees had legal authority to bargain with the faculty union. According to Associate Provost Phil Smith, attorneys for USF interpreted the ruling as delegating bargaining power to the Board of Governors. United Faculty of Florida Chapter President Roy Weatherford disagreed with the University’s timidity, saying that a 2003 BOG decision clearly delegates bargaining power to University BOT. The delay was resolved, but came after the December ratification of a collective bargaining agreement that put an end to nearly two years of caustic disagreement.

4 — Four or more years — By Ryan Blackburn and Mark Lennox — June 27

Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed two bills in June that would have had many Florida students reaching deeper into their pockets. The legislation, which was spurred by concerns that students are taking too long to complete college, would have forced students with 120 credit hours or more to pay an extra 75 percent per credit hour. In his rejection of the bills, Bush wrote, “These students are seeking a higher education and additional skills in order to enhance their contributions to society. Requiring these students to pay an excess credit-hours surcharge may increase their dropout rate. I am not willing to take this risk and potentially jeopardize the dreams of thousands of individuals seeking a higher education.”

5 — BOT increases tuition for grad students — By Chris O’Donnell — June 16

The USF BOT approved a tuition increase of 5 percent for in-state graduate students in line with a recommendation made by the Legislature in May. The hike — which amounts to an increase of approximately $150 per 12 credit hours — was opposed by student body President Maxon Victor, who said that many graduate students have financial concerns undergraduates may not, such as families. BOT Chairman Dick Beard also found himself at odds with the decision, though he didn’t share Victor’s concerns. “I didn’t think it was enough,” Beard said. “The issue for me was there was information that wasn’t available at the time of the meeting which was related to how many students were at USF that were in-state graduates and how many people apply and are turned away. I wanted to have that information.”

6 — Al-Arian trial begins — By Ryan Blackburn — June 6

Following intense trial preparation, nearly a month of jury selection and years of tumult, the trial of Sami Al-Arian began in early June. Al-Arian and three co-defendants are accused of using Islamic charities to provide funding for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an organization responsible for numerous acts of violence. The trial is expected to last more than six months and has been classified as a “high threat” by the U.S. Marshals service, something Al-Arian’s wife Nahla feels is unreasonable. “This is not fair because it is going to instill fear in the jury and it will create a sense of insecurity and distress. This is not fair for the defendant, for my husband … The government is using the scare tactic here to achieve its goals in convicting my husband, which is not fair. If we have normal situations, if we have a normal atmosphere, of course we are confident that we can show he’s innocent.”

7 — Loan rates on the rise — By David Guidi — June 20

Interest rates for federal loans rose in early July, and with them arose questions for students receiving Stafford and PLUS loans. The 1.93-percent increase caused many to consider consolidating their separate loans into one, an option that would have allowed students to fix their interest at the previous rates — then at an all-time low — with the qualification that they lose the option to defer payments for six months follow graduation. The rate hike was the first since 2001 and was among the largest in the history of the loan program.

8 — Student ID to go incognito — By Mark Lennox — May 19

In an effort to combat the nationwide rise of crimes involving identity theft, the USF Office of the Registrar began assigning students alternate ID numbers that will replace the use of Social Security numbers in many dealings with the University. Students will still need to use their SSN when required by law, but for most interactions with the University — including the use of OASIS — students can choose to use their alternate IDs. According to the Office of the Registrar, all student ID numbers are available on OASIS.

9 — USF receives largest grant from donor in University’s history — By Ryan Blackburn — May 23

With the intent of making global issues more of a focal point for USF research, BOT member Kiran C. Patel and his wife Pallavi donated $18.5 million dollars to fund the development of a Global Solutions Center. The donation, which is the largest USF has ever received from a donor, is worth $34.5 million with state-matching funds. USF hopes the center will bring further research and business opportunities to the University. According to Patel, global problems such as the energy crisis, water consumption and underdevelopment will be at the core of the center’s efforts.

10 — Alumni Association adds gay chapter — By Mark Lennox — July 21

In accordance with its diversity initiative, USF’s Alumni Center created a new chapter for gay and lesbian alumni. The chapter, called the Gay and Lesbian Association, is designed to encourage post-graduation participation with the University and provide support for gay and lesbian student organizations. Director of Media Relations Michelle Carlyon was in attendance at the event celebrating the chapter’s founding and said the chapter was an extension of USF’s support of minority groups. “We want to create a welcoming environment for every member of the USF community. We are proud to embrace different viewpoints and perspectives,” she said. — Combiled by Brad Bautista