TAMPA - As students at USF were forced out of a major parking area because of a concert event Tuesday, several complained that it was more than just an inconvenience, it was a safety issue.
"It was a cluster," said Cheri Castro, a USF senior who's graduating in a semester.
Castro said being forced out of the Sun Dome parking lot for the Florence and the Machine show not only made her nearly miss class, but it required her to walk a long distance alone on a campus that's been rattled by a recent on-campus sexual assault.
"I was a little disappointed they didn't make alternative arrangements for safety reasons," Castro said. "Someone to at least chaperone us from one area to the next," she said.
About 900 spaces were vacated for the concert, and during the day leading up to show, students found parking near campus next to impossible. After nightfall, that meant many had to walk much farther than usual.
Students said USF recently emailed a warning about the parking lot closure, and sent out another email about being vigilant in the wake of a dorm room rape.
"We got both emails right around the same time, so it was a bit much to absorb," Castro said.
Kristy Patton, a USF junior, said she was annoyed by the closed off parking lot.
"When I go to the library late at night I'm a little nervous about it," Patton said.
She described parking on campus to be a problem most of the time, let alone when there's a big show at the Sun Dome. Patton said she had a friend take her to campus instead.
"I was just like, OK, just drop me off. I don't want to deal with that," Patton said.
USF officials said the decision to close the Sun Dome parking area was the decision of the Parking and Transportation Department. No one commented abbot whether that created a safety problem for students.
USF police continue searching for the rapist on the loose. A composite sketch from his description has been created, and investigators are hoping public input will help catch the suspect.
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