Water taxis may move UT students during RNC Convention

UT says Hillsborough River may be alternate route

TAMPA - Around 50,000 visitors come to the University of Tampa every year to sit in the shade of the Victorian veranda and sight see at the city's 100-year old historical landmark.

"We're used to having visitors here. We like having visitors here, but we're going to be hyper-vigilant for the safety of those who are part of this community," said UT VP Operations and Planning Linda Devine.

When tens of thousands of people flood downtown Tampa for the Republican National Convention, the University plans to tighten security.

"We'll want to make sure that we tell by sight who needs to be here," said Devine.

Students and faculty will be required to wear neon green or orange lanyard IDs. Those who don't will stand out. It's just one creative way UT will handle challenges of the convention's proximity, but not the only way.

"We're going to try to replicate the content that would be discussed in class online so if a student can't make it for any reason, they won't be behind," said Joseph Sclafani, UT's Interim Associate Provost.

Online classes will give some students an option to stay home. Right now, transportation vans drop some of them off, but traffic may snarl their ride.

It's why UT is exploring an alternate route.

One of UT's backup plans is to use water taxis to move 300 students who live at the downtown Tampa Howard Johnson across the Hillsborough River to class.

"We're also looking at a scenario if we can't get students here what can we do at the Howard Johnson for them as far as feeding them, having classes and activities over there," said UT's Dean of Students Stephanie Russell Holz.

The University will also make arrangements for those who plan to commute to campus.

"We're going to have to have our equivalent of a cell phone lot like they do at TIA (Tampa International Airport) so we're working on that right now," said Devine.

She says the backup plans will ensure the first week of class runs as smoothly as possible and is a learning experience for students.

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