UTSA is hindered by Greg Abbott’s executive orders prohibiting government entities from enforcing mask and vaccine mandates, and it is difficult to assume what UTSA’s policies would look like if that were not the case. However, we should still hold our university accountable for the decisions our administration has made.
UTSA’s decision to move the first three weeks of classes online seems like a safe and wise decision for the student body, but the continuation of events like Howdy Rowdy Bash with no COVID-19 precautions seems counterintuitive to the university’s alleged commitment to prioritizing public health. Hundreds of students gathered for hours at Howdy Rowdy Bash without health precautions, yet UTSA continues to be praised for making the “right move” with reverting to online learning. UTSA’s contradictory decisions bring the need for a change in the way the situation is being handled.
Surely, fully vaccinated students were among those who attended Roadrunner Days, but being fully vaccinated does not eliminate the possibility of infection and transmission. Breakthrough cases caused by the highly contagious delta variant are growing in number, and refusing to take precautions will only set us back further in terms of returning to “normalcy.” Furthermore, Greg Abbott’s recent political policies directly affect millions of Texans. The policies do not align with UTSA’s health initiatives, thereby preventing UTSA from making decisions that protect the safety and well-being of UTSA students.
Students are desperate to return to in-person classes and our administration must do what is necessary to cultivate a safe environment. Schools across the country have begun in-person instruction, and Covid-19 cases have significantly increased in both teachers and students. These cases should serve as cautionary tales and demonstrate that we must do more than simply encourage people to wear masks or get vaccinated.
We have to stop creating opportunities that catalyze super-spread events purely for reasons like UTSA’s monetary success. The tickets for Howdy Rowdy Bash were $35.00 each, and it would be horrible to cancel such a lucrative event for the safety of the students, right? This event was clearly in high demand as expressed by students on social media. We have been failed by Greg Abbott so many times that it feels like nothing new, but UTSA administration can do more for students. “A house divided does not stand.” As our government continues to neglect our needs, we students must unite and advocate for our own health and safety.