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‘There’s no space’: Students mixed on USF restricting areas of honors college building

Honors College Dean Charles Adams said the policy change will allow administration to expand business hours for students in the future. ORACLE PHOTO/RACHEL TRANSLEAU

Sophomore environmental science major Marisabel Paredes, a non-honors student, said the change to access at the Judy Genshaft Honors College building is somewhat fair.

“When I used to come here, it used to be really full. And I guess that it might be unfair for honors students who actually are coming to use the space and study,” Paredes said.

Honors College Dean Charles Adams announced honors students, faculty and staff would be required to swipe their USFCard to access the top three floors of the building in a Nov. 14 email sent to the honors community. He said the change will be implemented for the “foreseeable future” in a statement to The Oracle.

He said his decision was made in consultation with USF Facilities Management and faculty. Adams and his team also consulted the Tampa Judy Genshaft Honors College Student Council to hear student opinions on the change.

These upper floors include classrooms, study areas and studios “that non-honors students do not need to use,” Adams said in the statement. USF students will continue to have access to the first and second floors of the new honors facility.

The first floor includes meeting and study areas and Buddy Brew Coffee and the second floor includes an outdoor terrace, the Office of National Scholars and collaboration spaces, according to Adams.

Non-honors students, such as Paredes, would need to visit the college as a guest of an honors student to access the upper floors of the building. 

Non-honors students can also check in with a Honors Ambassador at the desk in the lobby to request access to the upper floors, according to Adams’ email. He did not specify what exceptions would allow a student to gain access in the email.

Related: Not all students can access upper levels of Honors College, dean says

Paredes came with her friend, honors sophomore biomedical sciences major Martina Boaglio, to study. 

The change would force her to find somewhere else to work if she was on her own, she said. However, she said the crowds at the honors college used to deter her from studying in the building anyway.

“When I used to come here to study, we could never find a place to sit,” she said.

Adams said the access change will help the honors staff manage operations and work toward expanding building hours in the future. The honors college has considered changing access for non-honors students since August, he said. 

Adams said there were no major complaints from honors students about the accessibility of the building before the change, but many students were interested in extended access to the study areas offered.

It took less than five minutes for Boaglio to find a learning loft to sit in after the policy change Monday. She said prior to the change, it would take too long to find a place to sit and she would go to another location to study.

Related: Students, faculty endure months of delays for the Honors College. Is it up to par? 

Boaglio said she thinks the college could have set specific times reserved for honors students or only closed two floors to make the policy fairer for non-Honors students.

In the announcement, Adams said the change would allow the college to prioritize honors students, giving them access to study spaces and classrooms.

The building is still very new, and we are adjusting to meet operations needs and best serve our students,” Adams said.

Boaglio said she doesn’t think she deserves to have more access as an honors student, as the new classrooms and courses offered are enough of a benefit. 

She said she thinks the change will make it especially difficult for non-honors students to find a study space because they will be forced to share nine learning lofts instead of the 39 lofts across all floors.

“There’s no way. There’s no space for anyone,” Boaglio said.

Caitlyn Campbell, honors student and freshman biomedical sciences major, said closing three floors is “excessive.” Since USF spent $56 million on the building, she said it should be open to the majority of USF’s students. 

Related: Judy Genshaft Honors College holds ribbon-cutting ceremony

“But, also, I kind of believe in first come, first serve. If you’re early, you’ll get a seat,” she said.

Campbell said that if she could not find a spot to study in the honors college, she would just go to the library instead.

“I like it because it’s pretty to look at,” she said about the honors building, “but, either way, I’m still gonna find a place to get my work done.”

Senior microbiology major and non-honors student Onyi Ojogw said she utilized the study spaces in the honors college a few times a week with her friends. 

She said she doesn’t think the change is fair because there are limited indoor study spaces on campus, and, as colder weather approaches, students are looking for indoor areas to work.

“I don’t know where else they’re going to go,” she said.

Ojogw said she would not go to study in the honors college anymore because of the change.

“It just kind of throws me off on why they would try to make it seem like it’s so exclusive,” Ojogw said.