Any UF student will be able to tell you what six times six is: 36, the score they got on the ACT — but how come no one at UF seems to be able to figure out what six feet for social distancing looks like?
Because UF pushed back the start of its school year by a week, we have been able to witness a multitude of cautionary tales provided by other universities who were (1) foolish enough to reopen and (2) unable to get their students to mask up and social distance.
From what we have seen from our time back on campus and around Gainesville, we have little reason for optimism that UF will turn out any differently from its peers.
There has been no shortage of photos on Instagram and other social media platforms of sorority sisters standing shoulder to shoulder and cheek to cheek, violating social distancing requirements.
A Gainesville Sun photographer captured an eyebrow-raising photo of a group of eight sorority sisters meeting in the Reitz Union who dragged together chairs that were originally separated to promote social distancing.
If UF’s fraternities are anything like their counterparts at other universities, we’re in trouble. UF’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) is planning a “limited in-person recruitment process” that involves “lunches and nightly events.” What could possibly go wrong?
Notably, IFC has a cap of 50 men in a house or recruitment location at one time, which is actually less strict than Alachua County’s emergency order, which limits occupancy of non-essential places to “fifty individuals or 50% of permitted occupancy load, whichever is less.” IFC’s safety standards for recruitment could be seen as more lax than what is actually legal off-campus — certainly so if the Alachua County Commission decreases the indoor gathering limit to 10 people on Monday. Anyhow, given the overt failure of fraternity risk managers in preventing sexual misconduct, what makes any of us think they’ll be any bit talented at enforcing crowd sizes and social distancing in their houses?
Are our administrators any better at this social distancing thing? No.
Our Vice President for Student Affairs, who has justly threatened us with expulsion for failing to follow behavioral expectations, can be seen standing almost shoulder to shoulder with other prominent university administrators in not one, not two but three separate Instagram posts. `Rona doesn’t look the other way when people crowd together for a photo.
Even UF’s main website displays a photo in which you can clearly see multiple people sitting at the same table, not practicing social distancing.
The irony is not lost on us that it was UF researchers who successfully isolated live viruses from aerosols collected at a distance of seven to 16 feet from COVID-19 patients, yet somehow neither students nor administrators can figure out what social distancing six feet apart from one another looks like?
There is little preventing us from meeting a fate similar to our peer institutions. In fact, we are likely worse off than other state institutions such as UCF and FSU; they are testing students who are moving back on campus in addition to other groups such as all students and staff residing in on-campus Greek housing. And us? Well, let’s just say we agree with the memes that hint at how lackadaisical UF’s screening process is.
In case you haven’t noticed, people — including young kids with no preexisting conditions — are dying. If you don’t like that, we are pleased to inform you that there are additional ways to save a life beyond giving blood and joining a bone marrow registry.
We, the editorial board of The Independent Florida Alligator, are not optimistic enough to believe that anything we write would get a Chad to put the beer keg down or make a Karen mask up. Thus, we can recommend only one action to our readers: Report any and all violations of behavior standards to UF and Alachua County.
You may be familiar with the saying that “snitches get stitches” but keep your mouth shut, and people are going to be ending up on ventilators.
We don’t think people are taking behavioral expectations seriously, and we need you to report those people to UF so UF can publicly punish them to dissuade future behavior.
The form to report violations of UF’s behavioral expectations can be found online, or you can use the GATORSAFE app. The form to report an emergency order violation can be found online, or you can call 311.
Sing like a canary in a COVID-19 coal mine. If you don’t, we all may be having some breathing difficulties very soon.
The Editorial Board is made up of the Editor-in-Chief, Digital Managing Editor, Engagement Managing Editor, News Managing Editor and Opinions Editor.