Saying goodbye to the SEC

Good memories of activities held in the Special Events Center will remain in the minds and hearts of students, faculty and staff at USF, but the building will be gone. The SEC is slated for demolition to give way for the construction of a larger Phyllis P. Marshall Center.

For student body President Frank Harrison, the SEC’s departure will be bittersweet.

“We are getting a new Marshall Center,” he said, “which may be much better than (the old one), but at the same time it’s kind of like getting rid of an old pair of shoes.”

One of Harrison’s fondest and funniest memories of the SEC came when he was running for the Student Government presidency in the spring. A dance marathon was held there, and he was called on stage to participate in chubby bunny contest, in which participants stuff as many marshmallows as they can into their mouths while attempting to say “chubby bunny.”

“I think I came in second place, but I must have had twenty-something large marshmallows in my mouth at one time,” he said. “I was on stage trying to keep these things in my mouth while I was running for presidency in front of a bunch of students, and (I was) kind of making a fool of myself, but for a good cause – and it was a lot of fun, looking back on it.”

Alan Balfour, chair of the Department of Management & Organization in the College of Business Administration, does not have many memories of the building but recalls some of the activities held in the SEC in the 1980s.

“The University put on a winter holiday music festival with traditional and non-traditional caroling and instrumental performances,” Balfour said. “I always enjoyed attending those programs at the SEC.”

Regarding the plans to raze the building, he said: “Although I have no expertise, it is not apparent to me why the building needs to be replaced. It’s not very old as buildings go, and it is certainly not dilapidated.”

But Laurie Woodward, associate director of the Marshall Center, said the tearing down of the SEC is for the good of the University. According to Woodward, the new building “(will) be the perfect facility for the future of USF.”

Harrison shares the outlook. He said the SEC “is really inadequate based on national standards per square foot per student.”

Others, such as Assistant Director for MC Operations Joe Synovec, have no sentimental memories of the building.

“The SEC is just a building, which was used to support many student events and departmental conferences,” he said. “Although we will not have the benefit of this facility for the next two years – which will challenge the USF community to find suitable places to hold larger events – the end result of the SEC demolition will be a wonderful facility which will serve the USF community for years and years to come. The SEC was a large facility that was expensive to maintain, operate and heat/cool, and it just wasn’t used to the extent it needed to be used to justify its retention.”

Synovec said the demolition team will set up around the end of June and the actual demolition will take place at the beginning of July.