USF students celebrated the return of alcohol on campus during the first week of classes. Just like at other universities across the state, they could have a glass of wine or beer over a meal.
Ten days later, University President Judy Genshaft remembered there was a 1993 policy that said employees and students could not show up to class or work under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
What the administration has not been able to provide is documentation of employees or students showing up to class or work under the influence of anything. And before the policy was implemented, there were no reports of arrest.
Furthermore, when the Oracle made a public-records request for a more in-depth look at the situation, it found that few records of the decision exist.
University spokesman Michael Hoad told the Oracle that the lack of recordkeeping surrounding the president’s decision wasn’t out of the ordinary. He said that because it didn’t involve decisions regarding academia or budget cuts there was no need for extensive recordkeeping.
The lack of records, however, is difficult to accept since the state of Florida considers all electronic or verbal communication public under Florida Statute 119.
The statute goes on to state that meetings between public officials are considered public.
The Oracle was told that Genshaft was in a cabinet meeting when University vice presidents mentioned they had seen employees drinking during lunch.
After several days, Genshaft decided to enforce a rule that was passed 15 years ago.
It would be understandable if the president ran into the antiquated policy by mistake, sat down with a board and decided that it was in best interest of the student body and staff members of the University to enforce such policy. But suddenly remembering that the policy exists after being informed that employees were seen drinking seems like very poor planning by Genshaft and other University officials.
This decision, moreover, seems like little more than a petty attempt at controlling the situation, as classes do not stop at 6 p.m., they continue until 9:50 p.m. Instead of coming to a weak compromise, USF’s leaders should have reformed a flawed policy, the unclear wording of which created this situation in the first place.
USF should fix this problem by revisiting and revamping its drug-and-alcohol-free workplace policy, both because it’s unfair to students, faculty and staff, and because the financial viability of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s may well depend on it.