As continuing students arrived back at the University of Tampa, they were greeted with more than just a welcome from eager and overzealous freshman. The Republic National Convention was in town and affecting both continuing and new students.
The city of Tampa prepared for the Convention to the utmost degree regarding everything from security, to traffic, to lime green student lanyards.
There were a variety of reactions to the RNC from students, some being more directly impacted than others. The biggest issue that most students encountered involved wearing their green lanyards, which contained their Spartan Card ID.
Security was very tight around campus and would stop students if they did not have the proper identification. According to Brooke Maute, a senior at UT, “I live off campus and realized I didn’t have my school ID half way there. I had to turn around because I was worried they would let me on campus.”
There were several instances of students being denied access to campus due to not having the proper identification. Channel Cox, another senior at UT, felt that the lanyards were simply a hassle and not necessary saying that she was “stopped and [had] to show [security her] ID card and they know who [she is], so [she] thinks if anything, [it was] a nuisance to have the lanyards.”
The issue of traffic around the Tampa area was another main concern regarding the RNC. It was projected to take hours just to get several miles down Kennedy Boulevard. The traffic was the worst around the areas closest to the actual Convention, such a Channelside, Downtown and Harbor Island. Jennifer Fink, a senior stated “all of [her] classes [were] cancelled. It took [her] an hour to drive [to campus] for work on North Boulevard from Bayshore. [She] has had to leave earlier from home to get [to campus].”
Despite the extreme hype that the city of Tampa put out prior to the actual Convention, most students at the University of Tampa did not seem to feel that affected by the events of the week. A senior, Rachel Billhartz did not seem at all phased by the RNC, saying “it really didn’t bother [her] in any way. The school [made] it seem like we would be fully guarded. [She] was expecting gates and hundreds of police officers.”
Having the Republic National Convention held in Tampa was definitely a unique experience for many University of Tampa students; however, the overall outlook on the week did not play out as significantly as many students had planned.