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USF St. Petersburg “must be a branch campus," students say

The student senate at USF St. Petersburg stand up to faculty at USF Tampa who have opposing ideas about consolidation.
CHRIS URSO | Times Pedestrians are seen on the campus of the University of South Florida's St. Petersburg campus Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019.
Published Mar. 4

The student senate at University of South Florida St. Petersburg released a letter Friday, weighing in on a growing debate about what the three-campus USF system should look like through its consolidation.

University leaders, legislators and a 13-member consolidation task force are pushing for a set-up that keeps strong leadership on smaller campuses in St. Petersburg and Sarasota by deeming them “branch” campuses. Otherwise, they would become “instructional sites” with little authority under USF Tampa, which will be considered the university’s main campus.

Faculty senate members in Tampa last week became the first group to publicly urge against the branch campus model, sending a letter to the USF board of trustees Feb. 23. Now, students on one of the campuses in question are speaking out against the faculty.

“The recent letter sent by the USF Tampa Faculty Senate was willfully ignorant, and unfortunately represented another example of where faculty members can fail to work in the best interest of students,” a letter by the USF St. Petersburg student senate said. “USFSP must be a branch campus.”

The letter goes on to say that students USF St. Petersburg have worried for more than a year about what will happen to their campus under consolidation.

Their “most consistent concern” is whether the institution will retain the independence that leaders say has helped boost opportunities for students. But that’s only possible under the branch campus model, the letter said.

USF St. Peterburg’s "individuality is something that cannot be replaced or eliminated,” the letter said. “The culture of the campus, its sense of community and belonging and the diverse student opportunities cannot be compromised.”

RELATED: USF Tampa faculty urge against branch campus consolidation plan

Contact Megan Reeves at mreeves@tampabay.com. Follow @mareevs.

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