From left, students Daniel Slabaugh, Ryder Hochmuth and Cristina Solorzano enjoy Thursday's “Students, Staff and Faculty-tea” mixer.

Bulls Notebook: USFSM students return to class

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: January 13, 2017

SARASOTA, Fla. (Jan. 13, 2017) Biology student Cristina Solorzano enjoyed Thursday’s “Paint Nite” the most, although she also raved about the “Students, Staff and Faculty-tea” mixer as “a great way” to mingle with instructors and fellow students.

Bulls Notebook: USFSM students return to class

USFSM Regional Chancellor          Dr. Sandra Stone

For others, climbing inside a giant beach ball and getting knocked around proved more entertaining. Still other students found satisfaction lapping up chocolate chip pancakes served by Regional Chancellor Dr. Sandra Stone.

As USF Sarasota-Manatee students headed back to class this week for the start of the spring semester, the campus turned to an eclectic mix of engaging and entertaining activities to welcome them.

Called “Week of Welcome,” the events ranged from “Paint Nite,” where students let their creativity pour onto canvasses, to Knockerball, a soccer-style game that has players inside giant plastic bubbles. A traditional event at USF campuses, Week of Welcome occurs during the fall and spring semesters with students and the Office of Student Engagement choosing the activities.

Bulls Notebook: USFSM students return to class

Kim Mones, director of student engagement

Kim Mones, director of Student Engagement, said the idea is to make students feel “a connection to the campus and feel comfortable.”

Even if in some cases that means testing the limits of weirdness. One such example occurred Wednesday when students played Human Foosball.

In this life-sized rendition of the table game, the students adopted the role of the little red and blue soccer players, which of course presented an obvious problem. Namely, the students couldn’t move forward or backward. Essentially, they had to stay in place while trying to corral the ball in order to kick it into the net. If that wasn’t difficult enough, a line of defenders were positioned directly ahead of them to frustrate their efforts.

Paint Nite, held Thursday, was almost tranquil in comparison. For Solorzano, who used the two-hour evening to hang with friends, that was just fine. “It gave us a couple of hours where we could relax and be creative instead having to read a text book or something,” she said. “It was a nice break.”

Free music & art festival at Ringling Museum

The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art will hold a three-hour music and art festival that’s free to USF Sarasota-Manatee students with valid ID.

The Ringling Underground festival is scheduled for Feb. 2, from 8 to 11 p.m. in the courtyard at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Musical acts include Spark Notes, the Jackettes, Hank & Cupcakes.

Enjoy live music while viewing up-and-coming artists displaying their artwork. Select galleries will open for viewing. Tickets are $15, however the event is free for Ringling members and local college students with ID.

For more or for ticket information, visit

Mental health counseling available on campus

USF Sarasota-Manatee wants students to succeed and part of that goal involves mental wellness.

For students burdened by stress or other life issues, counseling services are now available at USFSM’s Student Services office free of charge. Starting this week, counselors will be available Wednesdays from 2 to 6 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This program is offered in collaboration with the New College of Florida’s Counseling and Wellness Center.

To make an appointment, call (941) 487-4254 or visit Student Services in the rotunda on the first floor. Students must present a valid ID.

“This is part of our whole commitment to student success,” said Lauren Kurnov, director of student success. “That’s the first goal in our strategic plan, and we see mental health wellness as a critical component to student success.”

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