Opinions generic

Partying: it’s what college kids do. Partying during a pandemic? That shouldn’t be what college kids do. It is irresponsible for our governor to condone partying while our state and country is under siege by a pandemic.

There is no shortage of photos on social media of people acting irresponsibly, especially this past weekend as many students enjoyed heavily breathing on one another as they watched the Gators’ glorious triumph over Ole Miss.

If you looked around Midtown and Downtown Gainesville, you honestly wouldn’t be able to tell if there was a pandemic going on. It looked like a normal away game day with students flooding the streets and the bars.

We are disappointed and not shocked that the rugged individualism of American culture has made for a society that cannot grasp the concept of caring about other people.

Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t helped in the slightest.

With his move toward the full reopening of bars and restaurants, DeSantis is very much putting our state further down a path toward disaster.

The pandemic hasn’t been kind to DeSantis. No one wants to be the face of failure when it comes to the pandemic. We went from seeing columns that mused “Where Does Ron DeSantis Go to Get His Apology?” in May to “Florida governor owes an apology for blaming COVID-19 spike on ‘Hispanic’ workers” in June. In July, Florida emerged as the world's new epicenter for COVID-19.

A poll released by Florida Atlantic University this month noted that DeSantis' approval among Florida voters has dipped and his disapproval has soared.

In his latest gaffe, last week, DeSantis suggested that a "bill of rights" be created to protect college students who go out and party

“I personally think it’s incredibly draconian that a student would get potentially expelled for going to a party,” DeSantis said. “That’s what college kids do.”

What a peculiar view from DeSantis on what rights deserve to be protected.

Also stirring up a storm last week was DeSantis’ proposed legislation that criminalizes disorderly protests. Quickly condemned by the American Civil Liberties Union as being hostile to the First Amendment right to protest and earning mixed reviews from even law enforcement officers, the bill is pure political theater. 

Why else would DeSantis call on lawmakers to pass the bill via a special session in November instead of during the regular session this upcoming March? He hasn’t called on lawmakers to do the same to address Florida’s broken unemployment system or looming budget crisis. 

But wait, there’s more: Let us also not forget that DeSantis once again found himself on the wrong side of history last week by denying the restoration of civil rights to Desmond Meade, the man who spearheaded the felon voting rights restoration amendment that passed in 2018. Though Meade is able to vote because of his amendment, he still isn’t able to serve on a jury or join the Florida Bar until pardoned.

Our state government in the meantime has spent over $1.7 million dollars to defend its 2019 law that requires felons to pay owed fees before being eligible to vote, a law civil rights groups call a poll tax.

DeSantis once again made headlines last week when he asked Attorney General Ashley Moody to ask the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for raising money to help felons in Florida pay their fees.

We wish that DeSantis would reevaluate why he prioritizes the right to party over the right to public assembly or the right to vote. Fighting for the right of college students to party is a very strange hill to die on.

Will history be kind to DeSantis? Probably not. Every day that passes, how much of a political disaster the COVID-19 pandemic is becomes clearer and clearer while the rest of the world watches in horror at the decline of the once great American nation. We are not proud of our country, state or governor. 

The Editorial Board is made up of the Editor-in-Chief, Digital Managing Editor, Engagement Managing Editor, News Managing Editor and Opinions Editor.