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Changes planned for A&S-funded services

Some students who pay Activity and Service (A&S) fees to the University are unable to use some campus services, but Student Government Senate President Khalid Hassouneh said that will change before the state of fall 2011 classes.

Hassouneh said students normally enrolled at USF for the fall or spring semester are being turned away from using services such as the Campus Recreation Center and the Marshall Student Center (MSC) computer lab printers free of charge because they are not enrolled in summer classes.

“The (Florida) law says all students should have access (to A&S-funded services),” he said, “(but) the University will look at it as students weren’t enrolled in a class, (so they are not a student).”

Hassouneh said he has spoken to the Office of Legal Counsel, Campus Recreation and Student Affairs about his plans to amend procedures so all full-time, A&S fee-paying students have access to on-campus services at all times, even when they are not enrolled in classes for a semester.

Dean of Students Kevin Banks, who Hassouneh spoke with, said the solution to the problem lies not in changing computer lab or campus recreation policies alone, but in creating a single, comprehensive policy.

“The university has several definitions of what a student is,” Banks said. “We’ve operated under the three semester rule, that once you’re enrolled for three semesters straight, you’re constituted as a student. But where fees are involved, I think that throws in a whole other definition.”

Jose Chavez, a junior majoring in management information systems, works as a computer assistant in the MSC computer lab and said “probably one or two” students per day are turned away from printing for free. At the beginning of the summer semester, the computer labs changed their printing procedures to require all students to swipe their University identification card to enable printing.

Before, students only had to type in their University identification number to use the printers, making them available whether or not they were currently enrolled in classes. Banks said the swipe cards, which are also used in the Campus Recreation Center and the Library, are the reason why students are allowed to use some services but not others.

“The thing is tracking it,” he said. “If it’s not something that’s used with a swipe system then we can’t track it. I’m quite sure there are students who access services, who may not be enrolled at the time.”

Banks, who said the problem has been on Student Affairs’ radar for “a year or so,” said Student Affairs will explore a streamlined process that applies equally to the University departments and, potentially, all campuses within the USF system.

“What about a student who may be registered here at the Tampa campus but may be taking classes at another campus and how do they access (services) if they want to go down to St. Petersburg and use the canoes and boating?” Banks said. “Does their A&S fee here cover the service down at the St. Petersburg campus?”

About a year ago, Banks said a student from the St. Petersburg campus wanted to be involved with a fraternity on the Tampa campus, but was ultimately turned away because he was not enrolled on the Tampa campus and there were concerns over safety, given the traveling time.

“Now, they don’t have fraternities or sororities at the St. Petersburg campus,” Banks said. “We have them here. The (Tampa) students pay A&S fees that cover or fund the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life on this campus, but the student at the St. Petersburg campus felt that he should be entitled to participate at this campus.”

When contemplating policy changes, Banks said it is important for administrators to ask themselves, “How can we engage our students on campus so they can have a great experience here?”

Yet, any change will come with additional problems that will need to be addressed.

Students who aren’t enrolled in classes for a semester or are incoming or transfer students can use the Campus Recreation Center for $15 per month in a semester-off membership, said director Eric Hunter.

Hunter said if the University changes the policy he will abide by it but will have to overcome the loss of revenue.

“Anytime you reduce or remove revenue, it’s an issue,” he said. “We would have to come up with ways to come up with business or ways to cut business to deal with that.”