Stephanie Fred

19 year old college student documenting the steps it takes to become successful in public relations.
Stephanie Fred has written 6 posts for The Digital Bullpen

Hidden Dangers: Narcotics in Your Kitchen

Photo Credit: Stephanie Fred

TAMPA, FL – While some addicts continue to look for drugs in dark alleys and behind rotten pubs, others are finding their fix in kitchen pantries and spice aisles at the grocery store.

Nutmeg, the popular spice used in small quantities in eggnogs, apple pies and hot beverages, is a popular new household high. When consumed in high quantities, nutmeg is considered a hallucinogen and gives what consumers are calling, a “nutmeg high”.

Nutmeg contains myristicin, an aromatic herb which has psychoactive properties. It also contains safrole, a carcinogen that damages the liver. If overused, nutmeg causes fever, liver damage, hallucinations, delusion and rare, severe effects such as seizures and cardiac arrest.

Sergeant Tom Brobowski, former University of South Florida drug recognition expert, says, “I remember a case where I got three phone calls from three different hospitals concerning students who shared nutmeg from the same bag. The students suffered increased heart rate and difficulty breathing and thought they were having a heart attack. Turns out they all had anxiety attacks. It just shows the gravity of what you think may tame you down, but does the exact opposite.”

This, however, is not the first time addicts have raided through pantries to fulfill their nutmeg high. The earliest records of nutmeg as a drug were in the 1940s when Charleston State prisoners began using it because of its legality.

The egg-shaped tree seed was prized in medieval Europe due to its low supply and high demand. However, as more countries began planting and exporting nutmeg, its value declined.

Wilton Belidor, a USF student who experimented with the spice, says, “I heard about it on some news channel and thought it was ridiculous. But a couple months ago I went to a party and tried it. But I will never do it again, I felt paralyzed the morning after.”

The Vault of Erowid, an educational website about drugs, informs many users about unlikely substances that can be used to attain a high. Certain legal substances mentioned on the site could be found at home improvement stores or grocery stores.

The website has a section called Experience Vaults where first-time users of bizarre drugs document timelines about their personal effects of spices, ecstasy and synthetic marijuana.

Some users on say nutmeg is “exactly like pot” and others say it is “well worth it.” In October 2010, a male user documented an hour-by-hour diary about his personal experience with nutmeg. This is a section of the diary during his fifteenth hour on the spice:

I start freezing up, everything turns black, my hearing turns off, and I feel myself drop on the floor and start sort of pushing myself in a circle with my feet with no control.”

According to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, toxic overdose can be seen with as little as five grams of nutmeg. The high can last up to 72 hours depending on how much one consumes.

YouTuber’s worldwide have experimented and recorded themselves abusing the herb. Some chug it in large quantities while others smoke it through homemade bongs made out of apple cores.

It doesn’t stop with nutmeg, however. Addicts are finding highs in other spices like ginger, cloves and tea. According to The Vault of Erowid, unusual substances like bath salts and even catnip have been consumed. These newfound highs could arguably be just as dangerous as narcotics.

“Sadly, this is something we have to start worrying about more than other narcotics. Because it is legal and easily accessible, I consider it to be worse than marijuana or pot,” says Laura Rusnak, professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health.

G-Spot, a local smoke shop on Fowler Avenue, now sells Spice, a legal alternative to marijuana. Although it has been present since the early 90s, Spice, also known as K2, became popular in 2008. The store is well known for selling herbal ingredients infused with synthetic marijuana. Spice is currently being sold as incense in other stand-alone and online stores.

Employees at G-Spot say they have heard about the nutmeg high. “There was actually a person in here the other day buying Spice and he told me how he had experimented with spices in his cabinet. Funny enough, he mentioned nutmeg,” says Amanda Hajarie.

If used correctly, nutmeg and other spices can add flavor to any dish. However, if spices are abused, they can be extremely hazardous. Since nutmeg is legal, cheap and easily accessible, the dangers of trending household highs continue to threaten people of all ages.

Admissions department responds to visitor feedback

It has taken two years for the admissions department to respond, but they are finally making adjustments to the campus visit experience based on visitor surveys and recruitment consultants from Target X, a college recruitment firm based in Georgia.

When families take a campus tour of USF, they are followed up with an email by the admissions department asking them to take a survey and give feedback about their experience.  Forty percent of visitors wanted to see a classroom, 27 percent wanted to see a dining hall and an overwhelming 87 percent of visitors wanted a bus tour option.

Jonathan Earnest, visitation coordinator, says, “We would love to provide bus tours, but right now it is not in our budget to hire a driver. We look forward to do this in the future though as the campus continues to grow.”

Although a bus tour isn’t soon to come, golf cart tours are. Golf cart tours are now available upon request. It is a first come first serve service, but Earnest believes it is a step in the right direction.

The Green and Gold Guides, USF’s student tour guide organization, has created a tour trainer committee. This new committee re-routed the tour which now includes a visit to a class room in either the Engineering building or Education building, and also includes a visit to Juniper Dining.

“We want to make sure visitors get the most out of their visit at USF and if that means switching up the route and adding a few more stops, then so be it,” says Melanie Reiss, Green and Gold Guide and newly appointed tour trainer.

The Admission Department also hired consultants from a college recruitment firm called Target X. Among many things, the firm suggested that tour routes steer clear of construction sites which prove to be distractions to the campus visit experience. They also suggest that tour guides show tour stops on a map before tours take off so that visitors get a sense of what the tour entails.

Changes to campus tours will take effect by the end of the month.

Admissions extends application deadline for incoming freshmen

The University of South Florida Admission Department has extended their application deadline to May 1, 2011 for the 2011-12 academic year.

High school students still looking for places to apply to college now have chance to become a bull. USF has decided to accept applications until May 1 in hopes of meeting quotas for the next academic year.

“Our admissions standards have dramatically changed from previous years and we are looking to fill quotas so that USF reaches its maximum potential for the future,” said David Henry, Senior Associate Director of Admissions.

Admission requirements will remain the same and the national deadline to decide is still May 1. Andy Eifert, visitation coordinator and admissions recruiter, hopes students take the opportunity to visit the campus.

According to 2010 statistical data from admissions software Recruitment Plus, 26 percent of students who visit the university deposit and attend USF. In 2009, only 18 percent of students who visited deposited with USF.

This data suggests that campus visits play a large role in a student’s overall decision.

“Sometimes it’s not about what school has the best program. Sometimes it’s about whether you feel at home when you visit the campus,” said Leslie Ann Lopez, outreach director of the Green and Gold Guides. “After all, it will be your home for the next four years.”

Admissions hopes students find a fit with USF. But, until then, it is unclear whether the university extended the deadline because of few admissions deposits. The news is still not publicized on the website, and plans for it to occur are unlikely.

Despite positive responses, USF will not offer bus tours.

After analyzing surveys, the admissions department at the University of South Florida defends why bus tours are not offered even per visitor request.

Eighty percent of visitors say that they would prefer if a bus tour of campus were offered. Two years ago, the admissions department offered a bus tour of USF. However, due to budget and overall convenience the department decided to offer walking tours only.

Jonathan Earnest,visitation coordinator, said, “We don’t think that the bus tour is a necessity. We feel that some of the culture of USF is lost when the Bullrunner drives by it at 20 miles per hour.”

Currently, the walking tour allows visitors to see a classroom, a residence hall, a dining hall and many other lobbies, atria and landmarks. Furthermore, the admissions department argues that if a bus tour were given, visitors would not be able to see USF resources and traditional events such as Patio Tuesdays and Bull Market Wednesdays.

Justin McNabb, administrative director of the Green and Gold Guides, says that since USF is so focused on keeping the campus “green”, it prevents bus tours from accessing internal sections.

As USF continues to preserve campus landscape and as the admissions department continues to make budget cuts, it doesn’t seem likely that bus tours will be incorporated into the campus visit experience again.

Amy Winecrest, receptionist at Parking and Transportation Services states, the department already donates parking permits and campus maps to admissions for the campus visit experience and as they continue to restructure their budget, donating their workers and buses for tours “does not seem likely”.

USF Admissions Hosts Stampede to Success

The University of South Florida’s Admissions Department expects a large turnout to this year’s Stampede to Success, which is this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Stampede to Success is USF’s open house exclusively for prospective students in high school and their families.

Marcus Graham, Green and Gold Guide, informs guests about resources available to students in the Marshall Student Center. Photo by: Stephanie Fred

The event features information sessions, to anyone who is interested in attending USF, about the Honors College, academic program previews, tours and current USF student panels conducted by the Green and Gold Guides.
Kiffani Irby, admissions counselor and recruiter, says, “The benefits of attending open-house events include opportunities to meet with faculty and staff from individual academic departments, taking more elaborate campus and housing tours and being able to get a feel for life on campus.”

Last year, there was a 60 percent show rate for the April Stampede to Success. Irby confirmed that there are 2,253 people registered for the event this weekend. If this year’s show rate resembles last year’s, USF will be expecting about 1,300 new faces on campus this Saturday.
USF hosts four open houses a year, Stampede to Success and Access USF.
Access USF focuses on first-generation students who are typically of lower socio-economic stature. This event offers more detailed sessions about the application process, scholarship opportunities and financial aid.

USF Admissions hosts USF Day at College Week Live

The University of South Florida participated in College Week Live on March 9. College week live is annual and is dedicated to one university, study abroad program or region. The event hosts a virtual open house with online “booths” where prospective students can get additional information about a particular college or program.  Select days throughout the year are designated for multiple colleges to showcase what each institution has to offer.

Homepage of College Week Live

College Week Live had a USF Day and admissions hosted the Admissions Booth, the Honors College and Research Booth and the Student Life Booth.

With the exception of a few universities in California, USF was ranked as one of the top universities visited by prospective students last year. Jonathan Earnest, USF visitation coordinator, says, “The median number of students that visited college booths was 31, and we had 118 students visit USF’s booth.”

The Green and Gold Guides, a campus tour guide organization affiliated with admissions, were the main participants in the virtual open house. They worked all booths and spoke with students via instant message and personal web cam chat.  The Guides also be participated in a student panel where three students answered many questions about student life via web cam.

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