Ask Sudsy- December 2017
How did the campus community prepare for the winter holidays?
Fostering campus community has been an ongoing enterprise since the inception of USF St. Petersburg in 1965. Community shapes collegiality, academics and enduring friendships. Holiday celebrations have historically brought students, faculty and staff together to deck the halls, provide service, and to share each others’ family traditions.
Until Residence Hall One opened in 2006, USF St. Petersburg was a commuter campus. But, that did not stop the students from developing projects across the scholarly disciplines to offer doses of seasonal good cheer.
For example, in the 1970s, the Management Association (MA) sponsored an annual toy drive to benefit local children. Donate a gift and receive free coffee and a cookie in the south lounge of Building B, courtesy of MA.
When the new campus buildings were opened in 1981, the student lounge in Bayboro Hall became the center of social gatherings. (The site is now the Debbie Nye Sembler Student Success Center in the renamed Davis Hall). In December, student clubs such as the Circle K Club (Kiwanis-affiliate), Sailing Club, Bayboro Geographic Society (BGS), among others, assisted the Activities Office in decorating a holiday tree in the student lounge. The clubs would create handmade ornaments of garlands representing their club. Prizes were duly awarded. One year, BGS recreated the Earth in a geographically accurate globe – with the club’s banner flying overhead. Circle K students made garlands in their club’s colors of blue and gold. Mulled cider – hot or cold, depending on the weather – and seasonal sweets added to the festivities. Campus pianists played lively music, perfect for a sing-a-long. Some years, the USFSP Ambassadors placed tags on the tree identifying gift wishes for underserved youngsters. Contributions were collected and carefully distributed by the Ambassador elves.
Decorating contests among campus departments were also very popular. Amid its colorful décor, the Library showcased books ideal for reading before that long winter’s nap.
When the historic Williams and Snell Houses were moved to campus and renovated in the late 1990s, colorful lights were placed on the buildings, creating outlines that playfully illuminated the night. Sometimes the campus palm trees were also aglow in twinkling lights.
Today service continues to be a essential component of USFSP holiday traditions. There are toy drives. The Honors Program has collected items for our animal friends. The durable USF St. Pete Singers have performed a unique holiday show each December since 1974 at area nursing homes and senior centers.
Activities such as these have historically invigorated campus life. Today similar projects continue to make the holidays bright – whether reveling in Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or any of the other December celebrations.