Since its inception in 2003, SAFE Team has played an important role for students living on campus. Offering free golf cart rides for students from 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. every night, SAFE Team does more than just serve as a convenient way to commute across campus after walking all day under the hot Florida sun.
For seven years, it has provided students with a safe way to traverse campus at night, a time that may present the most unforeseen dangers.
This role is an important one that needs to be better understood by SAFE Team leadership, who showed poor judgment in their questionable decision to shut down operations Tuesday night.
The threat of lightning or hurricane-force winds could endanger the safety and well-being of employees who drive the carts as well as their passengers, but this wasn’t the reason for taking the night off. Instead, it was closed because of a supposed pest control problem in the organization’s office.
Gary Manka, the Student Government adviser, said he was alerted to the pest problem “Sunday or Monday,” yet the exterminator did not arrive until Wednesday.
The unnecessary delay in dealing with the pest control problems in the SAFE Team office is unacceptable in itself, and is made worse by the fact that no bugs were found after an exterminator examined the office.
Even if there was a severe bug problem, this important service didn’t need to come to a halt.
A voice recording let callers know that SAFE Team was not operating during its usual hours.
Instead, this message should have informed callers of an alternative number where SAFE Team responders could be reached, and the organization could have still operated from a temporary location.
Because SAFE Team lacked foresight for continuing operations under difficult situations, its members enjoyed a night off while students were denied access to a program their tuition pays for, which is especially troublesome after recent robberies of USF students near campus.
Manka, and others in charge of overseeing SAFE Team, handled the perceived pest problem in an irresponsible and unprofessional manner.
The golf carts are the most important aspect of the service and have nothing to do with the office. Employees could have kept radio contact from anywhere, and finding a temporary office would not have been a problem, since most in the Marshall Student Center are closed during SAFE Team operating hours.
Changes need to be made.
SAFE Team leaders must have a temporary plan if something jeopardizes its main office. The threat of bugs shouldn’t serve as a reason to cancel the cart service.
If the current leadership cannot handle this seemingly simple task, perhaps their employment with the University should be reconsidered.