tampabay.com

Fret not, parents of USF students

By SUE CARLTON
Published October 31, 2007


Oct. 31, 2007

Dear Parents of University of South Florida students:

First and foremost, let us here in USF administration greet you with a hearty and well-deserved: GO BULLS!

Just a quick note to keep you, the parents of our very important USF students, up to date on some exciting things happening on our Tampa campus this fall, today being Halloween. Not that there's anything scary going on around here, rest assured!

Perhaps you have heard about a recent dustup over our slimmed-down university police force.

You may have heard that low pay has been sending officers scurrying off to better-paying, better-benefits city and county police departments.

Maybe you have heard that at times there are as few as four officers working on campus.

Maybe you have also heard that our officer-to-student ratio has fallen to one for every 939 students, compared with one per 564 students at the University of Florida and one per 664 at Florida State University. (Oh, but did you hear anything about the Gators or 'Noles hitting No. 2 this season on the football field? Don't think so!)

Maybe you even saw news coverage of dozens of students staging an on-campus protest over the police situation. (It's always nice to see our youngsters so involved, so spirited, isn't it? Though wouldn't those news photos have been even better if everyone had been wearing green-and-gold BULLS jerseys? Christmas is coming, parents!)

Never let it be said that we here in USF administration are unresponsive. In fact, we've been making plans for a fix since the shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech.

So the big news is this: We are in the process of bringing in private, unarmed security officers who do not have arrest powers to make things safer at school.

Some naysayers have called this a Band-Aid.

And there are those who would prefer strengthening morale and integrity by beefing up the actual existing university police with sworn officers. There are those who believe that the cost of real safety is well worth paying.

But, really, what's the purpose of college if you don't learn a little about priorities, and the way the world really works?

At least all this has distracted folks from that ugly and unfair "Jihad University" label we don't find the least bit amusing around here.

Just when professor Sami Al-Arian (or ex-professor Al-Arian, as we prefer to think of him) was becoming a memory, we get those two young men facing federal explosives charges, and headlines like, "Father: USF student no terrorist."

Did we mention that they aren't even technically, really, in actuality, USF students, since they have been suspended and aren't enrolled this fall? We try to mention that.

And we certainly prefer "Research U" to "Jihad U," don't you?

So in closing, USF parents, we want you to rest assured that here at the University of South Florida, we have our priorities in order and your children's best interests at heart.

And did we mention, GO BULLS?

Sincerely,

USF Administration