Tampa’s Nightlife Amidst COVID-19

By Tatiana Torres

Tampa’s nightlife spans further from just large gatherings hosted by students. There are also many places and venues around the Tampa Bay Area that college students tend to go to, which include the entertainment districts of Ybor City and South Howard Ave (SOHO) to the neighborhood bars and clubs.

Many preventative measures have been implemented to keep The University of Tampa community safe and lessen the risk of a COVID-19 spread around campus. But some students are still doing what college students tend to do: socialize and party around Tampa. 

A global message was sent on Monday, Aug. 31 to discourage risky behavior. In this statement,  Stephanie Russell Krebs, dean of students and co-chair of UT’s COVID-19 task force, said, “The Office of Student Conduct is aware of several large gatherings that occurred off-campus this weekend and is working with Campus Safety and local law enforcement to identify the hosts and attendees of these gatherings.”

Krebs’ message also said that the student hosts and attendees of these gatherings will face disciplinary action that may result in suspension from the university. 

Some students believe that this may be an extreme form of punishment. 

Nicolle Rios, junior criminology and criminal justice major, said, “I don’t think students that go out should be reprimanded because that’s a decision everyone makes and I think everyone knows how serious this is.” 

Some universities are already closing and resuming online classes amid battling coronavirus outbreaks, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Before COVID-19, I went out almost every weekend,” said Rios. “I loved hanging out with friends and doing different things. Since COVID-19 started, I haven’t been out to any Tampa’s clubs, bars, etc. but I do miss going out with my friends without masks.”

Some students believe that suspension is a fair punishment for those who decide to go out potentially putting themselves and others at risk.

“I know that it’s hard not to go out and have fun during college, but I believe that this needs to be taken a little more seriously,” said Faviola Báez, junior nursing major. “I’ve seen people going out without their masks and not social distancing, which scares me because I think the last thing we all want is for a COVID-19 spread around campus.”

UT started its own coronavirus dashboard that is dependent on individuals self-reporting to the school or through diagnosis at the Dickey Health and Wellness Center. It will be updated every Friday. As of Friday, Sept. 4, it reported 20 students have tested positive for the virus. 

“Many universities across the nation have made the move to remote learning for the remainder of the semester,” said Krebs. “We do not want to be in that position and hope students will see the risks in continuing down this path and will decide their college experience is more important that an unsafe social gathering.”

If students or University community members would like to submit information regarding University policy violations they are encouraged to complete an incident report at www.ut.edu/incidentreport.

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