Students of Florida’s 12 state universities should be able to socialize without having to worry that they get kicked out of school, Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis believes.
On Thursday, September 24, the Sunshine State’s governor said that he would consider working on a “bill of rights” for college students that would prevent state universities from taking actions against them if they flout coronavirus measures.
Social Distancing Measures
As part of attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Florida State University (FSU) announced last week that students caught attending or hosting large gatherings on or off-campus would be suspended.
Students who test positive but do not isolate themselves will also be suspended.
“I understand that universities are trying to do the right thing, but I personally think it’s incredibly draconian that a student would get potentially expelled for going to a party,” DeSantis said at a public health event Thursday. “That’s what college kids do,” he added.
Universities rushed to shut down campuses across the state last March as the pandemic hit the area and have spent months working on plans to reopen for the fall semester.
Attempts at Crowd Control
However, institutions like FSU faced a backlash for pictures on social media that showed crowds of students in public places, such as pools and at football games.
Since college classes began, photos & videos of FSU students throwing parties and not wearing masks have been posted online. While the university won't disclose what violations students are being charged with, at least 45 students are being investigated.
— Robbie Gaffney (@robbiegaffney2) September 17, 2020
In reaction, FSU’s President John Thrasher released an “urgent call to action” last week, warning that “students who endanger the community with actions such as hosting or attending a large party or gathering will be subject to suspension.”
“Socializing outside of your residence, working out at the Leach Center or engaging in activities such as going to parties may result in your suspension from Florida State University for a minimum of one academic semester,” his message said.
COVID Remains Rampant
Data from the state health department shows that since the start of the pandemic, Florida has dealt with nearly 695,000 COVID-19 cases.
FSU’s COVID-19 dashboard showed that out of 17,354 tests, 1,402 students and 26 employees have tested positive. This indicates that the institution currently has an 8.23 percent positivity rate.