During their campaign last year, Student Body President Chris Griffin and Vice President Alec Waid largely talked about the need for a system to track open parking spots, cheaper tickets for theme parks and a syllabus bank.
These are initiatives the duo has been working on since taking office and students can expect to start seeing the beginning of these programs next semester.
By next year, students will have the benefit of having a sensory system for parking garages that will display the available number of parking spaces throughout the day.
The idea for the parking tracker is to help students spend their time wisely while looking for parking.
According to Griffin, Student Government (SG) is still determining whether or not the tracker will be visible for students to drive by or if it will be incorporated into an app students can check in on.
Maria Castro, a freshman in cell and molecular biology, is more than fond of the idea.
“I think it’s really cool. For my 11 a.m. class I spend about 20 minutes looking around for parking spots just to realize that there aren’t any,” Castro said.
The parking trackers have already been funded by the Capital Improvement Trust Fund, which is funding by a portion of tuition. The fund is designed to build new advancements for the campus that will help improve student life.
USF allocated $900,000 this year for the trackers to be built within the next year, hopefully during the summer, according to Griffin.
In addition to the parking trackers, SG is also currently in the process of redeveloping new floor plans and renovations in the computer lab on the first floor of the Marshall Student Center for a ticket window that will sell discounted tickets to theme parks for students.
Depending on the type of ticket being purchased, students will be able to save anywhere from $22-$100.
The tickets available for students that are set in stone are for any Walt Disney World parks, as well as Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay and tickets to see the Blue Man Group. Plans for Busch Gardens and Sea World tickets are still in the works.
The goal, according to Griffin, is to have the window open for students by April, offering them the chance to visit the parks during the summer.
“We need distractions sometimes. We work really hard, we pay a lot of money, and we’re broke,” Castro said. “I’m really excited about it.”
As for the cost for the tickets to the university, SG plans to purchase them at a group rate from the parks and sell them at discounted prices for students. They are currently estimating the cost of the renovation for the ticket window to proceed for a secure business operation. The ticket sales will be self-generating within the parks and SG.
The final element being developed for students is an addition to the Oasis class registration search that will allow students to view the syllabuses for the classes they are interested in before registering, a new up-and-coming process throughout several universities.
Teachers will have the option to upload a new syllabus for the course, last semester’s syllabus or a summary of what the class will entail.
Although Griffin believes the plan for a syllabus bank will be very useful for students to plan out their semester, there is a concern that the system could be taken advantage of.
Students will have the option of taking an easy route throughout their college experience, choosing a lighter workload, minimizing their discipline and chances for a better educational practice. Although this can be seen as an issue, Griffin intends it to be more good than harmful.
“We think that if a student wants to do that, they’re already doing that with Rate My Professor, using peer sources,” Griffin said. “This provides the professor an opportunity to explain themselves, and give a factual area. Our goal is to allow students to be fully prepared when entering classes.”
Wendy Whitt, a mass communications professor at USF, is also on board with the idea.
“I advocate making as much information available to people as possible so they can make sound decisions,” Whitt said. “From an educator’s perspective, I like it. I wish that when I was in college that had been available.”
Rate My Professor is used by students at many universities, influencing their decision to take certain classes based on the opinions of other students.
“I would much rather have my class be judged by information that is factual and what I put out there, than have it be judged by Rate My Professor,” Whitt said.
After researching what other universities have available for students, SG decided on planning out similar programs that could benefit USF as well, resulting in these new plans.
“We thought this could be something our students could definitely benefit from,” said Griffin. “In our process of figuring out what we’re going to campaign to do, we thought that these were some of the best things to do enhance our student experience.”