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Consolidated SG raises uncertainty among students

Most students shared concerns about having one student body president and combined A&S fees. ORACLE PHOTO

Although consolidation across the Tampa, St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee campuses is inevitable, the plans still raise concerns and mixed reviews among students on how it will impact student life in the next academic year.

As consolidation goes into effect July 1, 2020, USF will unify all three campuses into one, single accredited university. 

The biggest concern for students at the moment is how it will impact their day-to-day lives on campus and the resources currently available to them.

Student Government’s (SG) plan to consolidate its three governing entities across the three campuses will bring significant changes to their current system, including the election of one president and vice president representing all three campuses as well as federal and local governments.

Alexandra Ramos, a freshman majoring in biochemistry, said despite the idea of growing the university together, having one student body president across all three campuses can be unbalanced.

“It might be a little bit unfair to the smaller campuses to have one president now where [before], they had their own sort of system going,” Ramos said. “I think it’ll be good for the university bringing things together but, at the same time, I kind of fear how much representation will be given to all campuses.”

Under a consolidated university, SG will be split into federal and local levels as a way to give proper representation to all three campuses. 

In the spring 2020 elections, students will vote for candidates from their respective campuses, as well as the SG statutes.

Sophomore Abigail Sy, majoring in integrated animal biology, said that having only one student body president representing the needs of all students across the system wouldn’t be beneficial.

“I definitely don’t think that one president is good for three different campuses even if they’re consolidated,” Sy said. “Despite having governors, I would still be uncomfortable because the president would still not be here the whole time.”

For Sarah Majeed, a chemical engineering freshman, the one student body president, regardless of which campus they are elected from, would still represent the students’ needs on all three campuses.

“I find the consolidation interesting because after all, we’re one campus and we take classes on different campuses, which is like, it’s cool and everything just to be unified under one umbrella,” Majeed said. “I don’t see a problem with someone else representing me. If they have the same thoughts and beliefs, I don’t see the difference between them being on this campus or the other ones.”

As students share their concerns about SG in a consolidated system, there also are questions regarding the future of the Activity and Service Fee (A&S), especially due to the uncertainty that comes with it.

With consolidation, the A&S fee likely would have to be the same on each campus. For just the Tampa campus alone, about $17 million in A&S fees are distributed to student organizations every year.

Austin Larese, a graduate student majoring in chemistry, said that the fees should correspond to each student’s home campus as they will be the ones using the resources and facilities available.

“If I don’t have the amenities in my own campus, then I don’t want to be the one paying for it,” Larese said. “It’s not fair for the other campuses to pay for facilities that they don’t have at their own campus, for instance. I shouldn’t have to pay to use those if that’s not my home campus and I’m not taking classes there.”

While consolidation has been heavily discussed for the past year, students still feel like the administration should spread more awareness about the universitywide changes.

Amar Mahbubani, a senior majoring in anthropology, said the university should focus more on discussing consolidation among students as well.

“They should probably try to outline the advantages, disadvantages and how it will affect students because I think it’ll be worse if students are surprised by it, and then they have to deal with it only when it comes,” Mahbubani said.

Ramos is hopeful that consolidation will be an opportunity to bring the university closer together while having all needs represented equally. 

“I’m interested to see what happens,” Ramos said. “To be honest, though, I think that USF is making a smart decision as they’re trying to grow the university. And I think that’s a step in the right direction. I think overall, even though there are some drawbacks, it’ll be a good move forward.”