With universities across the country well into the fall semester, for the first time in a year, many students are getting a nearly normal college experience as their schools have said goodbye to mask mandates and other COVID-19 safety protocols. However, some universities have chosen to retain COVID-19 related policies including mask mandates and social distancing along with implementing vaccination requirements for students.
These types of policies violate student freedoms and have been exhausted at the cost of a valuable educational experience. It is past time that universities terminate these policies and vow to never reinstate them.
As someone whose first year of college consisted of masking, zoom classes, and lack of student activity, I was excited to hear that my state’s university system enacted a policy prohibiting mask mandates and requiring the COVID-19 vaccine.
For me, this meant a normal start to my semester at the University of Georgia (UGA) where I could finally take in-person classes, see new faces, and get back to a more effective way of learning.
However, some UGA professors and faculty have expressed their dissent with the new policy, organizing demonstrations on campus to advocate for its reversal. One professor went as far as resigning in the middle of class after a student refused to wear a mask.
Now, over 50 professors have declared their intent to defy the university system’s policy, at the risk of losing their job, and will require masks inside of their classrooms.
This is, simply put, ridiculous, unnecessary, and a decision not supported by data. In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases at UGA, in the local community, and in the entire state of Georgia have declined steadily. This decline in cases comes as no university or state-wide mask (or vaccine) mandate is in effect. Yet, select professors and faculty members present this as a life-or-death situation that can be fixed with these mandates in place.
In contrast to Georgia’s policy, the state of Oregon has required masks to be worn outdoors since August 24th. However, for an extended period after the new rule was implemented, Oregon saw a drastic increase in the number of COVID-19 active cases.
Considering this data, it is clear that the local threat posed by COVID-19 is significantly diminished, and the failure of these mandates in other instances presents no justification to implement the same policies for a university of nearly 40,000 students.
I feel fortunate to live in a place and attend a school where the decision to wear a mask and get vaccinated is rightfully left to me. I sympathize with those who do not have a choice and whose personal freedom is being stripped away.
To those arguing and advocating for an unwarranted return to a state of lockdowns and mandates, I am tired of this. Students are tired of this.
Universities should cease making decisions that ruin the college experience and commit to sustaining the values and freedoms of their students.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.