The Student Government Association Senate is aiming to change the indoor mask mandate currently in place across Samford’s campus.
At the Student Senate meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 21, the Campus Services Committee proposed a new resolution called the Personal Health Decision Resolution. The resolution states that broad health mandates prohibit students from being able to make personal decisions for their own health and “recommends that Samford University administrators revise their COVID-19 mandatory indoor masking requirement.” The recommended revision entails that each student be allowed to decide for themselves whether to wear a mask indoors on campus.
The Campus Services Committee created the Personal Health Decision Resolution based on the constituent requests received from students. The committee also polled students to further grasp the majority’s opinion on masks. Out of the 378 students who responded, according to the committee, 71% showed support for the elimination of the mask mandate.
“We thought that a resolution would be the best way to quickly draw attention to students’ concerns with the masking issue around campus,” Committee Chair Alan Crisologo said.
The Campus Services Committee voted unanimously in support of the resolution and then introduced it in Senate.
At the Senate meeting, Crisologo took questions from senators about the proposed resolution. Concerns for older professors and administrators in a more at-risk age group working on campus arose. Crisologo responded to these concerns by saying that all professors have the authority to request that students wear masks in their class.
Senators also discussed the mask mandates and vaccination rates of other college campuses. Crisologo argued that the University of Georgia does not require its students to wear masks on campus and that the University of Alabama was set to review its mask mandate on Oct. 1. Senator Bailey Baldwin informed the chamber that both universities have much lower vaccination rates than Samford.
According to the UGA COVID-19 response website, though masks are not required, they are “encouraged.” Since Crisologo’s comments to the Senate, UA extended its mask mandate through Oct. 29, as reported by a Crimson White article published this week.
After a lengthy discussion, the resolution passed in Senate with over 2/3 support from senators.
The Personal Health Decision Resolution is now awaiting action by the SGA president. President Tyler Kendall can either sign or veto the resolution. If signed, the resolution will be brought to the university’s administration. If vetoed, Senate has the opportunity to override the veto, which will effectively send the resolution to the administration.
“In the meantime, the Campus Services Committee will be writing another resolution to ask administrators to review the COVID policies within two weeks and have additional subsequent meetings every two weeks to evaluate health regulations,” Crisologo said.