Approximately 60-percent of students attending USF live off-campus, and in a school with a student population of about 5,000, those are a lot of bags and a lot of books that have to be trucked over from class to class, and from campus back to the house.
However, the percentage of the underclassman population living off campus is much lower, the reason being that living in the dormitories is a requirement for those USF freshmen and sophomores whose original homes are more than 30 miles away. For those underclassmen who live within that radius and decline to live on-campus, the trip to and from school involves using their car as a storage facility for their materials, or, if commuting via public transportation, using the gym lockers at the Koret center. The other alternative involves simply carrying books from class to class.
The Koret center is out of the way from either the main campus or Lone Mountain, and placing expensive textbooks in a car runs the off-chance but definite risk of theft. Needless to say, the carrying of textbooks all around campus and to and from home is physically taxing. For these reasons, the ASUSF Senate had proposed installing lockers in the University Center as early as the beginning of last semester. For a while, it seemed as if those plans were going to come to fruition, but as of now, those plans have been postponed.
The reason for this postponement is not a lack of funding or university politics, but logistics. A series of renovations have recently been begun at the University Center, the building where the lockers were to be originally placed. Because of these transformations, the pilot strategy which included placing 75 lockers on the first floor of the building was put on hold.
“This issue has been brought up before,” said ASUSF president Bobby Marquez, who, even though he did not promise lockers during his election campaign, has been involved with drawing up and approving the strategy which included this pilot program. The issue has been raised as early as the beginning of last semester, and has not left the radar of the ASUSF Senate’s agenda.
“When the plan for the lockers was approved, there had already been talk for a long time about major renovations for the campus. No one expected any construction to happen anytime soon. We thought we were going to be able to install the lockers before any major changes took place,” explained Vice President of Internal Affairs Halimah Najieb-Locke, “but suddenly, major construction recently began the UC building”.
These recent renovations caused the postponement of the locker program because installing the 75 units now only to have them removed one semester later and reinstalled in a different location would be unreasonable. The tentative plan now is to wait for the renovation of the entire University Center to finish and then evaluate the optimum location for the placement of the lockers. As a result of the facelift the UC building will receive, the plan of the first floor will be altered significantly, leaving decisions such as final placement of the units on hold as well
“We want the lockers to be easily accessible,” Najieb-Locke continued, as opposed to being placed haphazardly as an afterthought in a less accessible corner of the building.
And when are these lockers going to be ready? “By the Spring of 2011, they should definitely be up,” she said. Building renovations are slated to be completed by the beginning of the school year of 2010-2011.
But why only 75 lockers when the estimated off-campus population is about 4000? Despite the logistical hurdles off-campus students may face in not having a set-apart, secure storage space for their belongings, many off-campus students seem indifferent to the situation.
“I don’t have a lot of problems in keeping my thing safe” says Evan Schmidt, a junior architecture major. Junior sociology major Dante Lauteri admits “That’s just the way it goes”. For these and other students, the relative safety of the X-Arts studios and the Koret gym lockers are sufficient. These responses help to justify a pilot run of only 75 lockers, with the possibility of adding more down the road if locker use proves to be high.
At the time of submission, the locker issue was likely to be brought up at the Senate meeting on Tuesday, February 9th. The discussion will take place, however, without the presence of the now-graduated Off-Campus Representative Joe Famularo, subsequently leaving the off-campus population presently unrepresented.