USF students welcomed back to campus, face expulsion for holding parties

The University of South Florida opened Monday for a fall term with COVID-19 at the top of everyone’s mind.

“I do worry, but I know that USF is trying their best and everyone is wearing a mask,” said Vivian Guite, a freshman from Naples.”

Students had the option of attending classes on campus or taking classes online.

“My family really discussed about just doing it online but I also wanted the campus feel,” said Savannah Carrier, a freshman from Connecticut.

Both students know that other universities, including the University of North Carolina, have been forced to revert to on-line learning following COVID-19 outbreaks just weeks after reopening.

“I think we’re fortunate and not fortunate that we’ve been able to see it across the country and know what the repercussions are,” said Danielle McDonald, dean of students at USF.

She believes the majority of students will wear masks and practice social distancing so they don’t risk what they came for. And this fall, it’s not parties.

“We’ve actually taken it to the level that they’re not allowed to have any meetings or any events,” said McDonald. “So there’s really no confusion between 10 people, 50 people or a hundred people, they can’t have any type of those large groupings.”

She says rule breakers will first get a gentle reminder, but repeated non-compliance can lead to expulsion.

McDonald said USF sent letters to off-campus apartment complexes asking managers not to allow large gatherings.

Meanwhile, classrooms are set up for physical distancing. All classes with more than 100 students are being held virtually. Almost 60% of USF classes will have some face-to-face meetings.

Common areas in residence halls are closed and no visitors from outside the hall are allowed in dorm rooms.

Everyone on campus has to fill out a daily wellness survey.

“If you’re coming to this campus, you’re coming and agreeing by the policies here,” said McDonald.

For students, this fall could be more about policies than parties.

“I haven’t seen anything like that here,” said Carrier, referring to parties.

There are hand sanitizer vending machines on campus. Students can get two complimentary bottles every 30 days by swiping their student ID.