By Cait Korsak
With the temperature, and the number of Covid cases on the rise, off-campus students at The University of Tampa are in a desperate search for air conditioned places to study on campus.
Hannah Rhea, a sophomore marketing major at UT, lives 1.4 miles west of campus and describes the absence of places to study as “astonishing and disappointing.”
“Students shouldn’t be struggling to find places to study at any given university,” said Rhea.
In addition to the lack of areas to study on campus, off-campus resources such as public libraries have been temporarily shut down to guests because of COVID-19 restrictions. Between the six different public libraries that lie within three miles of The University of Tampa’s campus, five of them are closed and the one library that remains open is still a 16 minute walk from campus.
Tampa Hillsborough County Public Library, the sole remaining public library that is open, does not have indoor seating and is strictly available for curbside pickup.
Without having the ability to retreat to an air conditioned building to study on or off campus, that leaves the question of where students can go to study.
Jakob Bernheisel, a freshman finance major, described the campus environment as being completely different from when he had toured the school previously, in November of 2019.
“When I first arrived on campus, I was shocked by how different and vacant Vaughn hall looked,” said Bernheisel.
What once was bustling with students, is now stripped of its tables, seating and gatherings and is instead filled by the occasional student walking down to the dining hall for lunch.
Adam Dimauro, an off-campus sophomore international business and management major, has classes between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays. After walking 2.1 miles to campus and attending his first class, he has a four hour break until his next class, which starts at 2 p.m.
In between his classes, Dimauro said that he studies at one of the scarce outdoor shaded areas, outside of the Mckay building on the riverwalk. “Last year, I would go to the same quiet spot on the second floor of Starbucks. With everything being closed, I’m forced to study outside in the 90 degree, scorching Florida heat,” said Dimauro.
After studying for hours in the blistering sun, some students at UT have described themselves as more tired and unmotivated to do their assignments.
Dimauro said “After searching for a place to study, and then sitting in the heat for hours, I lack any motivation that I once had to do my homework.”
Michele Casey, a family medicine specialist said “Your body, especially in the sun, has to work hard to maintain a consistent, normal, internal temperature. All that work – increasing your heart rate, your metabolic rate – eventually makes you feel tired or sleepy.”
In order to keep students updated, broadcast messages have been sent out by Stephanie Russell Kerbs, vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students at the UT. On Friday, Sept. 25, Kerbs said “As a reminder, residential students may not visit other residence hall rooms, suites, or apartments. They may not have off-campus UT students in their residence hall rooms, suites or apartments.”
Despite these forlorn circumstances, students at UT are striving to maintain academic excellence inside and outside of the classroom.