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USF’s PRIDE Alliance acts to minimize hate crimes and acts of injustice towards the LGBT community on campus

by Brooke Lacey and Alissa Jones

Wayne Gabb, vice president of external affairs for PRIDE Alliance


TAMPA — The topic of gay acceptance has been an issue for many years, and with the recent suicides of several gay teens across the nation, all of which were linked to bullying and intolerance, Wayne Gabb said people still need to be educated.

Gabb, a 20-year-old psychology major at the University of South Florida, is familiar with gay acceptance on campus. Gabb is the vice-president of external affairs for USF’s People Respecting Individual Diversity and Equality Alliance, or PRIDE Alliance, the primary LGBT group at USF.

“I’m happy to say at USF it’s barely an issue because we’re one of the most diverse schools in the country,” Gabb said.

Although the university is diverse, he added that some steps should be taken to make sexual orientation less of a public problem.

“Why don’t we create a living and learning community where you accept the fact you’d be living with someone that is from a different culture, that is [lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered], that practices a non-popular religion, and you’re accepting and okay with that?” he said. “More LGBT people will apply for that [living arrangement].”

Gabb said, from his experiences, he is happy with how the university promotes tolerance, but he occasionally receives unnecessary attention for his sexual orientation.

“I think each professor will take into account once they realize I’m gay. I feel sometimes I’m called out upon it in class for no reason, or it’s brought to people’s attention when it doesn’t need to [be].”

With gay suicides receiving major publicity this year, Gabb said that people should learn how to be more tolerant and less offensive toward the LGBT community.

“I don’t like when people constantly say ‘that’s gay,’ I actually had to speak out at one of my class mates because he used it all the time. I yelled across the room before class started, ‘the word you mean is “stupid.” The word you want to use is “stupid.”’”

Gabb also added that some of his friends have experienced more than just that cliché expression.

“I’ve had some friends…get into verbal abuse and almost physical violence when they were roommates at the time,” Gabb said. “That’s the problem with living in dorms on campus, and that’s why we promote living learning communities.”

Gabb offered some words of advice to promote tolerance within the student body.

“Labeling makes people uncomfortable, it makes people think that everyone’s in a category,” Gabb said, “but all men are created equal.”
USF student Rachel Martin, who is an out of the closet bisexual, said that tolerance toward the LGBT community should be promoted more often throughout the university.
“Just because I’m bisexual doesn’t mean that I’m stupid, below human, or anything like that,” Martin said. “And just because someone isn’t familiar with the gay community doesn’t mean that they’re ignorant. They just need to experience the [LGBT] community before they judge it.”

PRIDE Alliance meetings are held Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. in the the Marshall Student Center, room 3709.

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By Alissa Jones
Although USF lost momentum in the PETA2 competition to be named the most vegan-friendly college in the country, vegan students are confident that the university has what it takes.
TAMPA–In 2009, USF came in at fifth on the list of the most vegan and vegetarian friendly schools in the nation. This year, however, USF was knocked out of PETA 2’s online competition in the first round.
The competition, based online at PETA2.com, opened with 16 colleges. Students could go online to the competition’s web page, click on their college’s name and see pictures and descriptions of some vegan dishes offered by their university.

USF was in the running with pictures and descriptions of vegan foods from USF Dining, such as black-bean burgers with avocado-corn relish, Bombay garden spring rolls, vegan macaroni and cheese and vegan jambalaya. But those menu items are only a taste of what USF Dining has to offer, according to Jenna Burns, marketing manager of USF Dining Services.

“USF Dining currently offers numerous vegan and vegetarian options,” Burns said. “All three of our dining halls (Fresh Food Company, Bulls Den Café and Juniper Dining) offer vegan/vegetarian-friendly salad bars, fresh fruit, desserts, vegan mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, at least one vegetarian soup daily, lactose-free (vegan) ice cream and make-your-own waffle stations.”

The competition, which determined winners based off of votes for each college involved, was run by process of elimination.

Despite USF’s quick exit, Burns said the university’s nomination was honorable.

“The nomination was made based on both the quality and quantity of vegan options available to students on campus as well as feedback from students on the receptiveness and creativity of our dining staff,” Burns said. “Although USF did not make it into the Sweet Sixteen, we have already beaten out hundreds of other schools that didn’t even make the first round, which is something to be very proud of. Simply being nominated is an honor for USF Dining.”

After USF’s chances disappeared following the first round of eliminations, Kristie Almeida, a junior at USF and president of Students Protecting the Environment and Animals with Knowledge (SPEAK) at the University, said USF could have done better if the competition had been more publicized.

“I think last year there was a lot more advertising. In 2009 SPEAK really started talking to the school about more food options on campus,” Almeida said. “I think we strongly advertised the competition before.”

SPEAK may have not advertised the college competition, but that doesn’t mean students don’t support the vegan cause.

“At Greenstock, we signed up for about 50 people to become members of SPEAK,” Allison said. “We already have over 100 members online.”

SPEAK said that USF’s loss does not mean that the University isn’t trying. SPEAK’s president said that the University has added more vegan options to the variety of foods in the Marshall Center.

“There’s a lot of grab and go stuff (in the Marshall Center),” Almeida said, “there are vegan sandwiches, wraps and dumplings.”

Kristi Allison, vice president of SPEAK, said although USF didn’t place in the competition, she’s happy with recent vegan additions to USF’s menu, especially those in Juniper Poplar’s Pod market.

“I’m really impressed with the vegan options they have on campus,” Allison said. “I was impressed with how many to-go containers they have there (in the Pod market). There are so many vegan options. I’m so impressed with the variety.”

SPEAK agrees USF has many vegan and vegetarian options, but the school will have even more once the university’s newest dining hall, the Southeast Student Dining Facility, is opened in July 2011.

“The fourth dining hall will serve vegetarian/vegan, healthy, low calorie and low fat items, as well as serve as a training table for athletes,” Burns said.

With the oncoming opening of the Southeast dining facility, Burns said USF Dining will continue to adapt to the needs of vegans and vegetarians despite losing the online competition.

“USF Dining is always expanding their offerings of vegan/vegetarian options,” Burns said, “and
are continually adding options based on suggestions from the USF community.”

Almeida believes that the university will have another chance of claiming title of the country’s most vegan-friendly school, but she said students will have to help the school get there.

“USF usually makes it into the first round of voting, so then it’s just a matter of getting students out to vote,” Almeida said.

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After working at the St. Petersburg Times for several years, former editorial assistant Rita Farlow decided that she wanted more.

CLEARWATER—Rita Farlow worked for the St. Petersburg Times since 1997, but didn’t realize that she wanted to work the beat as a reporter until the late 2000s.
Farlow, who began her career with the St. Pete Times as an editorial assistant, said she worked hard to succeed in the company before becoming a reporter.
“I started as an editorial assistant writing obituaries, because I did have writing skills,” said Farlow. “And really, over a number of years, worked myself up within the company.”
“I was dedicated. If there was an extra shift, I worked it,” Farlow added.
As Farlow worked towards succeeding in the highly popular local newspaper by writing obituaries and doing layout design work, she started to realize in the early 2000s that she wanted to be a reporter. Although she wanted to write, Farlow confessed that she had no background in journalism.
“I actually have an English degree from Virginia Tech, but I had never written for a school newspaper and I’d never been involved in journalism at all,“ she said. “I’ve always been a news junkie and I’ve always read newspapers.”
With only a Bachelor’s degree in English and no professional training, Farlow followed through with her idea by going back to school to get the education she needed.
“Probably by the early 2000s I knew that I wanted to [be a reporter],” Farlow said. “When I realized that I really wanted to be a reporter I went back and got my master’s at USF in St. Pete, because I needed some actual training and I needed the skills.”
While Farlow worked toward her Master’s degree in Journalism, a professional connection gave her the opportunity to start her first beat as a journalist.
“When I was about half-way done with [the degree], an opportunity opened up in St. Pete for a community news reporter covering education, and the woman had been covering that beat, she and I knew each other and she recommended me for the job, and [the Times] gave it to me on a trial basis, and I did okay with that and so they gave me the job.”
Since her first job as a reporter in 2005, Farlow’s beat has changed to something she finds more interesting. Now, as an experienced reporter, Farlow keeps a steady finger on North Pinellas’ cop beat.
“I cover all of the public safety agencies from Largo north to Tarpon Springs,” Farlow said. “So I cover cops, fire, sheriff’s office, I cover murders, accidents, I do some criminal court reporting and occasionally some civil court reporting.”

Audio:

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