OU community reacts to continued enforcement of mask mandate


Sophie Hume

Students have mixed reactions to Oakland University’s plan to maintain the indoor mask mandate.

On Feb. 13, Oakland County officials announced they would no longer require schools to enforce a mask mandate. Despite the decision from the county, OU stated they will continue to require that students wear masks on campus. The OU community has mixed reactions to this decision, but none that are completely oppositional. 

Nina N., Senior, Psychology

“The fact remains that COVID-19 is a virus that spreads by one — breathing in the droplets and particles that contain the virus, two — having these droplets near the eyes, nose or mouth, as well as, three — touching the eyes, nose and mouth with hands that have been infected with the virus. It is also a fact that masks have been shown to be effective against the spread of COVID-19, in particular, N95 and medical masks (especially when worn correctly).” 

“The debate here isn’t a scientific one, because the science is very clear that masks are effective at reducing transmission of COVID-19. Rather, the debate here seems to be one of the collective vs. the individual — of the line between safety and freedom. It has been my opinion that freedom of the individual is essential, but that individual freedom cannot come at the cost of the safety and rights of others. It cannot infringe on the freedoms of others, which includes negative freedoms, such as the right to be free from said threat. My opinion at this moment in time is that I agree with the university’s decision. The pro of increased community safety outweighs the con of mask-wearing. In this case, the safety of the collective far outweighs the smaller individual sacrifice of wearing a mask.” 

Haley A., Junior, Political Science 

“I agree [with the university’s continued mask mandate]! It’s for the safety of students. A lot of students who are vaccinated still don’t get tested regularly and do tons of activities with those outside of OU, and who knows where they’ve been? And if someone doesn’t like it they are more than welcome to take online classes.” 

The most common reaction from students was the suggestion that wearing a mask should be up to the individual rather than a direction from OU faculty. 

Isabella P., Junior, Communication and Dance

“Personally I feel like since we require vaccinations to attend classes, wearing masks should be optional especially if we enforce social distancing and other procedures to keep students safe, but I will say that I respect the university’s decision to keep students safe by enforcing the mask mandate.” 

“I just feel like there are other ways to keep us safe than to wear masks and half of the masks that students wear are not protective at all. I pay tuition and housing to get the college experience and to make connections with people. I feel like the mask mandate is prohibiting me from doing so. I could be biased because I’m in the dance program, but it’s extremely frustrating to wear a mask while dancing and performing. Again, I understand why the university is doing it, but I think it’s been really hard on everybody.”  

Dorian B., Senior, Communication

“The mask should become optional. If [COVID-19] starts to become worse again, then [OU should] take other precautions to keep us safe — i.e. put us back online or limit the number of in-person classes.” 

Erika H., Sophomore, English and Communication

“Oakland University has been following the advice of the Oakland County Health Department for the majority of the pandemic, and I believe people should have the preference to choose whether they wear a mask or not during class. Over 90% of students and staff are vaccinated against COVID-19, and there have been many health protocols in place to keep the student population safe.” 

“We were told at the beginning of the year that if we got the vaccine, we would be able to stop wearing masks and return to post-pandemic life. The number of positive cases per week has drastically decreased as well state-wide and on campus. If students can sit in the dining halls together and gather off campus maskless, there should not be a strict mandate in the classroom.” 

For now, the mask policy remains the same, but OU is continuing to monitor the progression of cases in the area and make informed decisions based on the status of the pandemic.