Prior to the start of classes, a letter to the editor from DePaul student Dace Potas was published in The DePaulia that criticized the university’s decision to require masks on campus.
The letter stated that, “The administration’s decision to reinstate the University mask mandate is completely unnecessary and not based in science.”
Perhaps some science that was disregarded from the author comes from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website, stating that masks are a barrier that block the transmission of respiratory droplets. Later in the letter, Potas claims that since getting the Covid-19 vaccine is a requirement to return to campus at DePaul, masking is unnecessary. The CDC also states that while being vaccinated reduces the risk of intense sickness from the virus, anyone can still become infected with Covid-19 and spread it to others.
Shermar Price, a current junior at Depaul, supports the university’s decision. “The objective is to stop the spread of Covid-19,” he said. “Wearing a mask decreases the spread of the virus.”
A concept that Potas failed to consider was the fact that DePaul students who support the mask mandate are not apprehensive about death or severe symptoms from this virus. The concern is ending the pandemic, and the university’s decision to enforce a mask mandate reflects that concern.
Price, who is fully vaccinated, later disclosed that he was exposed to Covid-19 directly but credits his mask in preventing him from contracting and spreading the virus.
Layla Walcott, a student living off campus, stressed the importance of the campus mask mandate. “I believe it is very necessary and I wish more people agreed,” she said.
Walcott was concerned prior to the return of in-person classes that many individuals would be nonchalant about the pandemic now that they are vaccinated. However, being vaccinated is not a magic button that neutralizes the risks of the pandemic.
Much of DePaul’s student population lives off campus. The naïve claim that the university should not require masks because campus vaccine rates are high and the population is relatively low-risk is tone-deaf to commuter students.
While many can relate to the irritability of wearing a mask for a year and a half, selfishness is not the solution to solving this annoyance. Continuing to wear a mask is no longer for us — the vaccinated and low-risk individuals. It’s for the protection of the high-risk elderly Chicagoans that need to take the train every day. It’s for the safety of children who are unable to get vaccinated. It’s for the disabled and immunocompromised students and staff of this university. Ultimately, wearing a mask is about empathy.
Potas signed his letter with the signature “A Fed-Up Student.” And to that, I give you:
Isabelle Earl, A Student Who Wants To See My Grandma At Thanksgiving.