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Saturday, August 21, 2021 1:00 am

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Mask mandates newest campus challenge

EDITORIAL BOARD | The Journal Gazette

Social media feeds might be filled with back-to-school photos, but not everyone is happily returning to the classroom.

InsideHigherEd.com reported this week a tenured professor at the University of Alabama at Huntsville resigned in protest of the school's COVID-19 policies.

“Some faculty, staff and administrators are looking the other way, holding their tongues, holding their noses, or holding their breath in fear as they prepare to convene or attend in-person gatherings on campus,” professor Jeremy Fischer wrote in his resignation letter. “It seems that only when we reach a political as well as a public health crisis will our university move most or all classes safely online. But this is a moral emergency, not a time for craven and timorous or self-serving responses.”

Fischer, whose academic focus is in moral psychology, wrote that any faculty member would be punished for endangering public health by smoking in class.

The coronavirus is a greater immediate threat than secondhand smoke, he said, yet professors who refuse to teach large classes in close quarters will be punished.

Several dozen faculty members at Ohio's Youngstown State University marched Aug. 13, protesting the administration's decision not to require masks, social distancing or vaccines. 

Clemson University faculty planned to protest on Wednesday, but shortly before the planned demonstration, a court decision gave the university authority to issue a mask mandate. The event went on, more in a celebratory fashion and as an opportunity for faculty to hand out masks to students, according to South Carolina's Independent Mail.

No protest is planned at Purdue University Fort Wayne, where officials announced Thursday an extension of the requirement for all students, staff, faculty and visitors to wear face masks indoors while on campus.

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