To mask or not to mask?

With universal masking leaving IU campuses many are left with divided feelings on the mandate removal.

Gracie Vanover and Skyler Switzer

More than 200 members of the IUS community have signed a petition in order to bring back the mandate on campus.

Since March 4, students, faculty, and staff don’t have to wear masks anymore in indoor places such as classrooms, residence halls, dining spaces, and common areas of buildings.  

While part of campus is happy with the unmasking, others are joining together in the petition to list why they’re signing.

Some feel that the campus constituents who are impacted most should be making these decisions.

Senior Lecturer J.R. Ramsey wrote in his petition comment, “Just finish out the semester and see what the health trends are leading into the summer.”

Others like Associate Professor of Political Science & International Studies Dr. Jean Abshire demanded in the petition that masking should still be required due to high-stakes health risks.

“The pandemic isn’t over for people with cancer!” she said.

Acting Chancellor Dr. Kathryn Girten insisted she was comfortable with IUS moving forward with optional masking.

She said that staff and students can participate in “one-way masking” –  which means wearing a mask regardless of what others do.

“I would strongly suggest that everyone listen to Aaron Carroll, IU’s chief medical officer,” said Girten. 

“Carroll explains, wearing a mask, if you’re a person [who] wants to protect themselves, [you are] very much welcome to wear a mask in whatever situation,” she said.

According to Girten, she feels that IU campuses are some of the safest places during the pandemic. 

However, some members of the community are not satisfied with this decision or even frown upon it. 

“I am pretty disappointed that IU is lifting the mandate at this point in the semester, and for all campuses,” Aimee Adam, an associate professor of psychology,  said. 

“IUS and our service areas are still in the high community spread level, even according to the new CDC guidelines, unlike the other campuses.”

Adam said she feels that each campus should be empowered to make their own decisions and choose what is best for their community. 

With the differing opinions of the faculty and staff lingering around campus, students also have varying opinions on the new policy. 

Sarah VanIsenberg, a senior majoring in psychology, has been on the fence about the transition of the required masking to optional masking.

“I am a little in the middle,” VanIsenberg said. “I’ve been so used to wearing a mask at school for almost two years that it is going to feel a little weird to me to not wear one.” 

She said she is planning on continuing to wear her mask on campus and for sports events as well, due to limited players or missing big events such as upcoming conferences.

VanIsenberg’s biggest concern however is having another outbreak.

 “As long as people are responsible and avoid contact with people or wear a mask when they feel Covid symptoms then I think that the university should be okay,” she said. 

Junior psychology student Kim Bonilla-Escalante does not feel much of a difference at all about the revised policy. 

“I think it truly does not make a difference in anyone’s grades if they are wearing a mask or not,” she said. 

Bonilla-Escalante is just thankful that campus is returning to a normal most have been longing for and she hopes “people just respect others’ decisions on if they want to wear them or not,” she said. 

Sophomore Justin Sweeney said that he, too, feels that the mask-optional policy “is a good step for the people at IUS.”

“I judge whether to wear a mask by who is wearing one around me first,” Sweeney said. 

For those interested in signing or viewing the petition to reinstate universal masking click the link here.