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TV and film stars headline University Lecture Series

The line for R.L. Stine’s lecture last year went down the stairs of the Marshall Student Center and into the atrium.ORACLE PHOTO/JESSE STOKES

This semester’s University Lecture Series (ULS) lineup will dive into the world of reality TV and the Marvel Cinematic Universe when Love and Hip Hop: Miami star Amara La Negra and Black Panther’s Winston Duke share their stories.

La Negra, a self-proclaimed Afro-Latina, will be speaking during Hispanic Heritage Month on Sept. 25 and Duke will speak on Oct. 25, both in the Marshall Student Center Oval Theater with doors opening at 7:30 p.m.

Sabrina Alt, the graduate assistant for CSI, detailed the steps of securing a speaker for the ULS series.

“We start by reaching out to the agents and they send us speakers that are in our price range that they think we should take a look at,” Alt said. “From there it goes to the (ULS) board, the students that are in charge of the lecture series, and they compile a survey that is sent out to the student body.”

Alt said when they are looking for prospective speakers, the survey sent to students includes specific names, but also has options to note general areas of interest, such as reality TV or science.

According to Alt, both La Negra and Duke were specifically listed on the survey and were among the highest voted for in the results from over 300 people.

Josh Wilson, the associate director for CSI, said that factors such as student opinion as well as external elements like social issues and topics in the current political climate impact CSI’s decision on who to bring to campus.

“Things that we look for are what the student body interest is … and then we also look at what is happening in the world and what is happening on campus and what the topics are that we think our students want to engage in further and what would also be an interest for folks actually to come to the event,” Wilson said.

A change comes with this year’s ULS fall lineup, however, as there are only going to be two speakers compared to last fall’s three. According to Wilson, this change is a result of less funding from Student Government’s Activity and Service Fee allocations.

CSI, who plans the ULS events, faced an approximate cut of $300,000 from its budget this year.

La Negra will be receiving a $15,000 pay day compared to Duke’s $30,000 for speaking at ULS.

According to Wilson, the change in the number of speakers is expected to be the new normal and the budget cuts will impact the lineup in the spring semester as well, as there will only be the three speakers, compared to the four that have come in the past.

Alt said perhaps the most important thing about the ULS series is recognizing why the speakers were chosen and encouraged students to come listen to what they had to say.

“It is important that the students know that it is their peers who selected the speakers that we bring,” Alt said. “Although we are in charge of doing the contracted things, it is their peers who selected them. So, I would like to encourage students to come out and hear what these people have to say, because obviously their peers thought it was important that we bring these people to the campus.”

Both lectures are free to students and the public on a first-come, first-serve basis, though USF Tampa students will be given priority seating.