UF Turning Point USA’s debate on communism vs. capitalism was cut short when an audience member announced a person with COVID-19 was trying to attend the meeting.
Before the meeting ended abruptly, so many students showed up to the Reitz Union debate that the meeting was moved to a larger room next door just minutes before starting.
Roughly 100 students packed into the Reitz Union room. Around half the students were wearing masks.
UF’s chapter of Turning Point USA, a nonprofit conservative organization, invited the general public and members of UF’s Communist Party like President Alfredo Ortiz to their general body meeting to debate.
Concluding statements were cut short when Siddharth Krishnan, a member of the UF Communist Party, announced from the back of the room that a COVID-19-positive student was on the way to the debate.
Krishnan had invited a UF online student to the debate. He received a Snapchat message about the test result when the student was in the Reitz parking lot. Krishnan told the Reitz's front desk staff, which contacted UFPD.
“He did not tell me he had COVID until he was on the way here,” Krishnan said. “He said ‘I have COVID, but I’m wearing a mask, so it doesn’t matter….’”
Krishnan was told by an officer that law enforcement couldn’t respond to the issue.
With 10 minutes of the meeting left, audience members looked at one another, some confused, before exiting the room and continuing discussions in the hallway outside.
Members from both organizations have plans for another debate in the future, possibly next month.
This story was heavily edited from its original published form. Descriptions and quotes were removed to reflect relevant information and updated news judgement.
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Maia Botek is a third-year journalism major and Spanish minor covering student government this semester. Maia is from South Florida and enjoys the beach, spending time with her friends and learning about the environment in her free time.