Your RA knocks on the door, ready to surprise search your dorm. Quick, think fast! Hide the alcohol. Whew. You didn’t get caught. Anything else that can get you in trouble? You don’t even know, do you? Don’t cut your time short at the University of Florida because you accidentally forget to cite a paraphrase in your research paper. Going into college you actually want to graduate and find a career. Playing pranks that turn sour—like deciding to cheat on a test just one time—can mess up your career forever.
Avoid these 10 things at UF unless you want to get in major trouble.
1. Parking Violations
More than 50,000 students attend the University of Florida. A good chunk of those students lives off campus and commute. That equals a lot of cars and not enough parking. “There isn’t enough. There should be more options,” said UF junior Gisselle Garcia. When you desperately need to find a parking spot with 10 minutes to spare before your exam, you may park in a lot you know your decal doesn’t cover. Cue the spot parking enforcement officers. They walk around, searching for parking violators and pass out tickets. Once you get a ticket you have 15 days to either pay it or appeal. You can pay online or at the Transportation and Parking Services Customer Relations Office. Or skip the ticket and wait until parking lifts at 4:30 p.m. on the weekdays. Just know every minute before the clock strikes 4:30 counts. You can and will get ticketed at 4:27 p.m.
2. Underage Drinking on Campus
Newsflash: College students don’t wait until the big 2-1 to take their first sip of beer. But what’s the cost? At UF you don’t even need to drink alcohol to get punished. Simply possession of an alcoholic drink (yes, including games days) counts. If under 21, you can’t be found with open containers or drinking alcohol outside, inside or around the residence hall, or in public areas. If you can legally drink then you can drink in your room or floor lounges. Dry rooms are considered places where all residents are 20 and under, meaning you can’t drink in dry rooms. People of age can only drink with other people of age. If caught drinking underage on campus the consequences include attending an alcohol workshop.
Don’t mess with other people’s work. Plagiarism is serious, even more so in college than in high school. If caught, what happens next depends on the instructor and severity. “I got in trouble for plagiarizing. I submitted an assignment and it came up [as plagiarism] even though it was my words and thoughts. I got lucky because my teacher understood. But I still got a zero for the assignment. I definitely learned my lesson,” said a sophomore at UF. If caught plagiarizing, the instructor will meet and punish you with a grade penalty or educational seminar. You may need to retake the exam or even the course. Your life is literally in the instructor’s hands. Think your instructor will never know you took that paragraph from a literary review? Think again. Turnitin tracks any duplication in your work, both in other Turnitin submissions and the Internet. Cite information that you know came from a source or risk being asked to leave campus.
Some Greek and even non-Greek organizations around campus secretly haze their members. Often times, organizations disappear for a year or more and suddenly return. No one talks about it but everyone knows. Last year, UF investigated Kappa Alpha Theta after hazing-related audio. In the audio, two women talk about a hazing event that included alcohol, racists conversation, and even lap dances. At some point the conversation even hint to some sexual activities. UF doesn’t tolerate hazing of any form. Hazing consequences included expulsion from UF and even criminal charges. Report any form of hazing to the advisor of the organization, Greek Council, and Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. Before you join any organization know exactly what it entails. And step away if you feel pressured to do anything outside of your comfort zone.
You thought sharing a room with your annoying younger sibling drove you nuts. Then you moved to college. College roommates might end up weird, rude, dirty and just plain disrespectful. Last year, many news outlets reported on a roommate from hell story. A student at the University of Hartford admitted licking her roommate’s dining utensils, secretly smearing bodily fluids on her backpack, spitting in her coconut oil and even putting moldy clam dip in her lotion. Shocking. You cannot do these things to your roommates. “My roommates would do things to me all the time. Sometimes it was funny. But other times they were crossing the line. I had to learn how to speak up,” said sophomore Aaron James. Bullying didn’t magically become acceptable when you left high school. Just like this University of Harford student you can face criminal charges and consequences from UF. A prank may seem funny as you go through the motions, but you risk hurting your roommate both physically and emotionally. Your peace of mind and safety—and your roommate’s—outweighs everything.
6. Gator Link Lockouts
Consider yourself lucky if you don’t know what a lockout means for Gators. A lockout happens when a device you own or recently logged in with tries to sync or log you in with an old or incorrect password. Lockouts occur for 30 minutes. For 30 minutes you can’t access your UF email or anything that requires you to use your Gator Link, including Wi-Fi. Imagine having an assignment due when you experience a lockout. What if you’re in the middle of taking an online exam? With certain lockouts, you can log back in by changing your password. Sadly, you can’t do that with all lockouts. You’ll need to wait the 30 minutes for some lockouts to clear. To avoid this, keep your passwords on all your devices up to date.
7. Not Meeting Scholarship Requirements
One word perfectly describes college scholarships: lifesavers. They help fund many college careers. But if you don’t keep up with requirements you may find yourself looking for a job, federal loans or worse—private loans. Make sure you maintain the requirements for any and all scholarships. Take Bright Futures, for example. The Florida Academic Scholar Award requires you to remain enrolled as a fulltime student. That’s means at least 12 credit hours for the fall and spring semester and maintaining a 3.0 GPA. Every scholarship is different when it comes to requirements. Some require that you attend a workshop. Go to that workshop. Many people at UF lose scholarships over easy-to-complete requirements. You don’t want to take out a loan the amount of a mortgage because you forgot to take 12 credits in a semester.
You sit in your room and begin to think about your GPA. Your stomach begins to turn and all of a sudden you burst out crying. Some people go to college and never see a GPA under 3.5 while others fight for a GPA over 2.5. All UF students must maintain a 2.0 GPA. However, your college and or major may require a higher GPA to stay in the program. For example, the College of Journalism and Communication requires a 2.5 GPA for all students. UF won’t care if your GPA drops below 2.3 but the J-school will say, “See ya!” Do your research and know the GPA requirements for your school and college. Let’s say your GPA drops while in the college. If you can’t bring it up, out you go. Many people get kicked out of their major and even the school because of the GPA. Study hard at Marston or West to keep that GPA well above a 2.0.
9. Bribing TAs and Instructors
I always wondered why professors and instructors can’t accept an apple from students. When I arrived at UF, it all made sense. Students come to college to succeed—for some, at any cost. Passing a certain chem class or surviving accounting feels like life or death for some of these students. Some students might try to bribe their instructors with gifts. Students often think about ways to get in the good graces of their TAs. “My friend was a TA, and he would help me out at times,” said a graduate student at UF. To stop this from happening, many courses at UF grade anonymously so that instructors, TAs and professors don’t know which students they grade. And if a TA or professor thinks you’re playing games, they can and will report you for inappropriate behavior. If you try to unsuccessfully bribe a professor, prepare to face the consequences and a very awkward conversation.
If you think that you can go to the library, leave you things, go to the bathroom and come back to things the way you left it, then you live in imaginary land. Now it can happen. But when you do this, you may come back and not find all your electronics still there. “I forgot my water bottle in a classroom. When I went back it was gone,” said UF student Katyal Sanjeev. At any college, bikes, laptops, USB drives, backpacks and even water bottles get stolen. Thieves lurk everywhere. UF students caught stealing face criminal charges.