Opinions generic

Students are still partying and spreading COVID-19. We think it’s safe to say many students don’t give a damn about the pandemic or the warning emails sent by our Vice President of Student Affairs.

With the push for a limited return of in-person classes next semester, course registrations opening up and UF even closing down a residence hall to make for more quarantine space, we wanted to address the topic of mandatory testing. President Kent Fuchs, in an interview with The Alligator, said he was considering mandatory testing for high risk groups such as students in labs and Greek life. With the increased number of in-person sections next semester, we think it is only reasonable for UF to further step up its testing capabilities.

It is a lot easier to get a test than it was at the beginning of the school year. UF Screen, Test & Protect can pat itself on the back for that.

However, one issue with the current testing system is that it still depends on people’s goodwill to come in and voluntarily get tested. How are we supposed to be catching asymptomatic cases if people don’t feel a need to schedule a test? What about all those people partying at bars?

If those students have the gall to rampage all over the streets of Gainesville in spite of public health guidance, UF administrators should at least respond with the same energy in mandating the partying students get tested.

Let us put this in terms Tigert Hall will understand by talking about the various levels of mandatory testing done by public universities ranked better than UF by U.S. News & World Report.

At UCLA, weekly testing is required for “all students living in university housing or participating in on-site or hybrid classes, as well as for faculty, staff or teaching assistants involved in teaching on site.” That’s what the No. 1 public university in the country is doing.

Next is UC Berkeley, where students in residence halls are required to be tested twice a week.

At the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, mandatory testing was utilized as a response to clusters in residence halls.

At the University of Virginia, all undergraduate and graduate students were required to take a test in order to return to campus and there is now mandatory testing to catch asymptomatic cases

The University of California, Santa Barbara, has weekly required testing for those “living in campus housing, working on campus or attending in-person instruction.”

Every school ranked higher than UF has had some sort of mandatory testing at one point or another, with the notable exception of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, which was nationally humiliated for its failure to control the virus. UNC will have mandatory testing as it also returns to in-person classes in the Spring.

Let us not forget that 20% of our national ranking is calculated from the opinions of our peers. Compared to our peers, UF is not adequately taking care of its students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community — and given the embarrassing COVID-19 outbreak within our football team, how are our peer institutions supposed to think highly of us?

Experts theorize that 10% of infected people are responsible for 80% of new infections. UF needs to further step up its testing game: We need some sort of mandatory testing. Asymptomatic cases are slipping by right under our noses. We need to do better.

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