Call out the administration, not students

Emily Johnston, Assistant Opinion Editor

Instagram accounts have cropped up to showcase students without masks, @catswearmasks having one video of the Redstone Green with nearly 2,000 views.

It is easy in a pandemic to start an ‘us vs. them’ rhetoric, and accounts like this play into the idea that there are the high and mighty versus diseased fiends.

I don’t think it is ethical or helpful to call out individual students for not wearing a mask.

Those living on Redstone aren’t responsible for a possible outbreak if one occurs, the entire student body and the administration are responsible. 

We first have to realize that UVM administration brought students back to campus; any rules and regulations and implementation of said rules are the responsibility of UVM admin.

Therefore, any blame for an outbreak, if one occurs, shouldn’t be on specific sectors of campus or on specific students.

Reports from students on campus state that students are gathering on Redstone green without masks in large groups.

Those on the Redstone green are being irresponsible, there’s no doubt in that, but they aren’t to blame for any outbreak.

Since August 1, Vermont requires face masks to be worn in all public settings where six feet distancing is not possible.

UVM, by not breaking up these groups, is essentially disregarding that rule.

According to the Fall 2020 return to campus guide, face coverings must be worn whenever in the presence of other people or in a public setting.

While students should put the needs of the community above their own desires and wear masks when required, students shouldn’t be solely responsible for keeping the campus safe.

UNC Chapel Hill returned to all remote classes after mask violations caused an outbreak, according to an Aug. 17 New York Times article.

While many blamed unmasked students for the outbreak, there was discussion that there should be no in-person classes in the first place. 

UVM, like UNC Chapel Hill, decided that in-person classes would continue. Any fallout from that decision is not the students fault.

Already, there are 12 students who tested positive, according to the UVM weekly testing report.

If UVM wants a safe campus, they need to ensure that all students are following the rules they provided.

The Green & Gold promise states that students should promise to “follow social distancing and face mask guidelines.”

The school made it clear in the Green & Gold promise that any outbreak will be blamed on students and students only.

Students need to realize that Burlington isn’t just a college town. There are people living here that may be immunocompromised.

Students also need to realize that creating an “us vs. them” rhetoric will only cause harmful divides in the student body.

A large outbreak may not be deadly for those on campus, but it could be deadly for the Burlington community.

That is why UVM is trying to absolve themselves of any blame from a potential outbreak, and why public shaming is becoming a problem.

Redirect any anger about COVID-19 to those responsible for bringing us back to Burlington. 

Freshmen on Redstone are only doing what they’re allowed to by the University. 

If one has an issue with it, take it up with people who are able to prevent gatherings.

The right thing to do is to wear a mask, but the right thing is also to be aware of what you preach. 

Blaming poor organization and implementation of COVID rules on students will not help anyone other than the administration.