National Universities Face COVID-Related Dilemmas

In this last year and a half, COVID-19 has plagued teaching in universities because of the lack of safety protocols in place. Universities don’t have clear protocols and university faculty can be fired for refusing to teach without a mask mandate. In universities such as Penn State university faculty have resigned due to the unsuitable requirement that they must teach in person. The treatment of faculty that don’t agree with the lack of regulations in the university are unfair due to the fact that universities should ensure the safety of their faculty to begin with.

University faculty can be fired by their institutions, according to CNN journalist, Ruth Ben Ghiat, “That’s what happened to Cody Luedtke, an instructor at Georgia State University, for refusing to teach without a mask mandate in place to keep her and her students safe.”

Teachers being fired at institutions for not agreeing with the decision that their workplace will not have a mask mandate should be prevented. In the midst of a pandemic which is deadly for those with health issues and dangerous to the rest, faculty such as Cody Luedtke should have a say in whether or not the university should have a mask mandate.

“Leah Long, who has an unvaccinated toddler at home, resigned from Arkansas State University, which has no vaccine mandate and requires masks indoors only if six feet of distance cannot be maintained”, stated Ruth Ben Ghiat, CNN journalist.

Even with the virus spreading, universities such as Arkansas State have no real protocols that ensure the safety of the faculty and students. Those who have others at home that are of higher risk for COVID have to take matters into their own hands because the university isn’t taking measures or acknowledging the problem it causes for others.

According to Ruth Ben Ghiat, a journalist for CNN, “[In the] University of Georgia [a] mathematics professor, Joseph Fu, requires masks be worn in his classes, although the practice is not authorized by his institution or the University System of Georgia.”

Universities that don’t have proper mandates in place for the safety of students and faculty should allow the faculty to decide if they want their students to wear masks during class. Wearing masks and being vaccinated are controversial topics that universities must take into account and make proper decisions about for the safety of their students, staff, and faculty. If students and faculty have different opinions about the situation, then the university should allow professors to make that decision for their own classes.

Ruth Ben Ghiat, who writes for CNN, claimed that, “… universities and colleges must show faculty that they value their well-being… Otherwise, many may come to share the sentiment expressed by James Tierney, an assistant teaching professor at Penn State University at State College. Tierney resigned when the administration rejected his request to teach his 590-person introductory course online… ‘I believe the university’s vision for higher education no longer aligns with my own,’ he wrote in his resignation letter.”

University faculty should be able to take the means necessary to ensure their safety. Regulating the usage of masks should not be a task that universities struggle with since masks help their students and faculty feel safe and secure in the midst of a pandemic and in a place where many people reside. University faculty should be able to decide whether or not they will allow their students to not wear masks and the fact that some faculty are taking great measures should send a message to the university in which they work that there is an issue and there needs to be a compromise.