A UF student was arrested for refusing to leave a Regional Transit System bus Monday afternoon near Marston Science Library after choosing not to comply with masking rules.
Joseph McDugald, an 18-year-old UF freshman, was charged with trespassing by the University Police Department at about 1 p.m., UPD spokesperson Rick Taylor said.
Riders are required to wear masks on all RTS buses. When McDugald refused to do so, the bus driver called an RTS supervisor to the bus and asked McDugald to either put on a mask or leave. He refused again and UPD arrived at the bus as RTS issued him a trespassing warning.
The bus driver, RTS supervisor and police reasoned with the student for over an hour before removing him from the public transport and arresting him, Taylor said.
“He refused to get off the bus,” Taylor said. “If he didn’t get off the bus, he was forcing us to arrest him.”
Taylor said the student cooperated after being arrested and police escorted him to the Alachua County Jail.
He was released at about 12:20 p.m. Tuesday without a bond, Alachua County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Art Forgey wrote.
After being reached by phone, McDugald declined to comment on the incident.
“That was over an hour that that bus was out of service,” Taylor said. “Over an hour that other students weren't being transported to where they needed to get to.”
Kevin Zhang, a 19-year-old computer science sophomore, said he’s experienced people on the bus not wearing masks.
“The one thing I expect from the bus system is to be on time,” Zhang said. “If someone is just being a disturbance and just causing everyone else to be late, I’d be pretty vexed.”
Masks are not mandated on UF’s campus, but are expected to be worn by students and faculty to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Per CDC guidelines, it is required for all passengers on public transportation to wear a mask when boarding, disembarking and until reaching their destination.
RTS spokesperson Thomas Idoyaga said there’s no reason for bus riders to not comply with masking requirements.
“We give away masks free of charge to anyone who rides the bus,” Idoyaga said. “Anybody who rides a bus needs to wear a mask.”
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Isabella Douglas is a fourth-year journalism major and the Fall 2023 editor-in-chief for The Alligator. She has previously worked as the digital managing editor, metro editor, criminal justice reporter and as a news assistant. When she isn't reporting, she can be found reorganizing her bookshelf and adding books to her ever-growing TBR.