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News Clips 03/22/2013
UCF Board of Trustees discuss safety, approve fee increases
Source: Central Florida Future, 03/21/13
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By Dave Carriere
The UCF Board of Trustees met to discuss campus safety related to Monday’s incident at Tower I and approve a 59-cent health fee increase Thursday.
While discussing the suicide and explosives found in the residence hall during the incident, Trustee Harris Rosen, who said his son resides in Tower I, stressed the need for the university to perform more rigorous dorm inspections and make sure roommates are compatible before placing them together.
On Monday, suicide victim James Oliver Seevakumaran’s body was found in his room in Tower I, along with a .22-caliber Magnum tactical rifle, a .45-caliber handgun and a bag containing four improvised explosive devices.
Rosen suggested resident assistants should be able to ask residents to open closed boxes and closets in their rooms when inspecting for contraband.
“The RAs have a responsibility,” Rosen said. “Their responsibility is to make sure that those apartments are inspected. Clearly [Seevakumaran’s] apartment was not inspected.”
Rosen also suggested that any students who live in Tower I be able to leave immediately without penalty for breaking their leases.
Trustee Ida Cook said that while the safety of students is important, the university must remember that students also have privacy rights that need to be protected.
“The young man who killed himself was 30 years old,” Cook said. “He has the rights of an adult. He certainly has the right to live somewhere else, but he lived at UCF, and so to that extent I want whatever it is we do to protect the right of [individual residents] as well as those around them.”
BOT Chair Michael Grindstaff said UCF will be looking into new protection plans, but they would not be discussed at Thursday’s meeting.
President John C. Hitt and the board commended the UCF Police Department for its response to Monday’s situation and thanked the university students, faculty and staff, especially housing staff and counselors.
Along with its discussion of the Tower I incident, the board also approved a health fee increase that was tabled at February’s BOT meeting, due in part to resistance from Trustee and Student Government Association President Cortez Whatley.
The fee increase will bring the fee from $10.30 to $10.89 per credit hour beginning in the fall 2013 semester.
The 59-cent increase will be allocated to fund a psychiatric advanced registered nurse practitioner, part-time clinical dietician, the addition of four mental health specialists and rapid HIV testing and promotion for students.
Whatley, who voted no on the health fee increase again Thursday, said mental health services are important, especially in light of the Tower I incident, but he felt he was representing students who say they feel “nickel and dimed” by UCF fee increases.
“Regardless of the services, sometimes students will just not [be] too happy with the whole idea and the concept of [fee increases], so I was just articulating that to the board and voted accordingly,” Whatley said.
A 3 percent tuition increase, which will go toward College of Medicine operations, was also approved for UCF medical students.