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Saturday, December 09, 2023

The holidays are officially over, and it's that time of year again. You're heading back to class with aspirations of burning off all the cookies you ate over break and attempting to actually stick to your New Year's resolutions this time - or at least until drop/add ends.

As you diligently organize your planner and write in all those scheduled exams you swear to study for and papers you promise not to leave until the last minute, you realize it won't be long before everything becomes business as usual, and you're stressing out come finals week.

But, for now, enjoy the time when nothing is due and relax with this week's "Welcome Back" edition of…

Darts & Laurels

We start with a nice-way-of-kicking-off-the-year DART to the Leon County circuit judge who threw out the case for tuition control based on a failure to show standing on Jan. 3.

Hopefully, former Florida Gov. Bob Graham and the Board of Governors can submit enough evidence by Feb. 4 to have their case reinstated, so we can finally figure out who ultimately controls the future of the State University System.

It's time to finally show those power mongers in the Legislature who's really boss.

Speaking of the boss, we offer a glad-you're-back-because-this-spring-may-be-your-only-chance-to-graduate DART to Bernie Machen for suggesting that summer school may have to be taken away to make up for the ,16 million deficit due to state budget cuts. Surely, there are other ways to make up for the shortage.

However, despite our usual reluctance, we can't help but offer a they-want-us-to-return-to-a-safer-campus-with-a-system-that-actually-works LAUREL to University of Florida officials for their plans to test the emergency text-messaging system for the first time Tuesday.

With LSU's recent glitch, UF made the right choice to avoid similar problems and make sure all students have up-to-date information in case of an emergency.

In the wake of the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April, college officials can't leave much to chance these days.

And since most of us are glued to our cell phones anyway (thanks a lot for that iPhone, Steve Jobs - that didn't help), why not send us a message that we'll actually get?

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Unfortunately, we have no choice but to give an absolutely-no-cutesy-way-to-say-it DART to the staff of the Hilochee Wildlife Management Area for their dense decision to start a controlled burn near I-4 in Winter Haven this week.

Their attempt to clear land for a wildlife habitat in one of the state's driest areas turned into a predictably out-of-control wildfire.

The resulting smoke-fog mixture over the interstate led to a 70-car pileup that killed four people and hospitalized 38.

We shudder to think what could have happened if they had started the fire when we were making the trek back to Gainesville.

Finally, we hand over a get-a-free-set-of-handcuffs-this-semester-if-you-don't-have-a-wristband LAUREL to the Gainesville Police Department for stepping up patrols to combat the common occurrence of underage drinking.

While we don't wholeheartedly agree that this will stop the baby boozers, we have high hopes that more arrests will keep more of the amateurs at home. After a 20-year-old UF student died last semester with a blood-alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit, police can't just sit back and watch.

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