“Dear Mr. Governor: please share the REAL reason for your proposed Student Bill of Rights – signed, a parent of two college kids.”
As Florida’s public universities work to protect students from COVID-19, Gov. Ron DeSantis says he wants to protect students from their universities. He said the state is exploring ways “to provide some type of bill of rights for students” who face discipline over social distancing rules intended to stem the spread of the virus.
YOU SAID THAT DURING A PANDEMIC?
He actually said, “That’s what college kids do, and they’re at low risk,” What he didn’t say is those same “college kids” are not only endangering their own life, which they have the choice to do, but the lives of others, who did not have COVID-19 101 on their fall syllabus.
DeSantis surely understands universities are trying to “do the right thing” but personally thinks it’s incredibly “draconian that a student would get potentially expelled for going to a party.”
“Dear Mr. Governor: Students do not get to play the ‘adult card’ when it’s convenient for them. Students both ‘act and make adult decisions’ or they don’t. Their chronological age has nothing to do with it.”
NO TIME FOR PARTY TIME
We’ve seen the images of “college kids” literally on top of each other in pools, bars, frat houses and dorm rooms. Just imagine what we don’t see!
“College students typically enter their freshman year as teenagers and hopefully choose to exercise their collegiate experience as a transition to the next developmental stage of young adulthood with corresponding growth in critical thinking and decision-making,” said South Florida based Mental Health Counselor Lori Moldovan RMHCI.
A few weeks back, Florida State University president John Thrasher sent a letter to students threatening to suspend those who continued to socialize after being asked to self-isolate or quarantine. During the first week of the semester, 11 people were arrested at a house party held by a banned fraternity. Since then, FSU has conducted 19,426 tests, with 1,448 students and 31 employees testing positive. The total positivity rate is 7.61 percent, according to university reports.
Over the past several months, higher education has been a theater of the pragmatic and the absurd. In sizing up the pandemic plans of most universities, it hard to know how to identify the boundary between denial and deceit.
EVERYONE LOVES A COLLEGE TOWN
There isn’t a parent around who believes opening on-campus learning and the financial machine that is college sports DURING A PANDEMIC is because of altruistic reasons. Students select certain campuses for that “college town experience.”
So as DeSantis says, “That’s what college kids do…” And what they do – pandemic or not – is good for local business and allows for that sought after “college town” feeling of “That’s what college kids do…”
Instead of a COVID-19 Student Bill of Rights, how about a Pandemic Student Conduct Code with real teeth? How about a PSCB, which students morally and ethically adhere to, so you do not NEED a politician having to protect students from themselves?
So rather than saying “That’s what college kids do…” as an excuse for potentially deadly behavior, imagine saying “That’s what college kids do…” in reference to college students adhering to the PSCB.
THE CHOICE IS NOT YOURS WHEN IT CAN HARM OTHERS
College-age students are developmentally wired to be social creatures and to push against rules and regulations. They are supposed to question, experiment, and take risks. The question is not whether they will take risks, but which risks they will take in which contexts.
Unfortunately, during the pandemic their risks have potentially extreme consequences and offer little margin for error… and… for which they cannot receive an “F.”
This column is by Ritchie Lucas, Founder of The Student Success Project and Think Factory Consulting. He can be reached at 305-788-4105 or email at email@example.com and on Facebook and You Tube as The Student Success Project. Lori Moldovan RMHCI can be reached at 786-747-2855. She works with adults, couples, teens and children with a wide-range of mental health issues.