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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Inconsistencies in university masking mandates: Double standard between performing arts groups and athletics

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ILLUSTRATION: NATALIA PEREIRA ’24/ THE HAWK

During their final dress rehearsal on the day of their opening performance, the cast of the SJU Theatre Company’s “Pippin” was informed that, despite their hopes for clearances from the university, they would be required to wear masks for the entire run of their musical. 

They were told by the university that an exception wouldn’t be made just for the musical.

My friends in the cast came home devastated, angry and frustrated with the decision. If you’ve ever sang in a mask before, you know how difficult it is. But despite their frustration, the cast got decorative masks to go along with their costumes and performed all six of their shows fully masked. 

It was the rule. The cast understood that the rules had to be consistent, and despite the fact that the whole cast was vaccinated, they knew that wearing their mask was for the safety of everyone.

While scrolling through Instagram a few weeks ago, I came across several photographs from the recent men’s basketball games posted on the men’s basketball Instagram account, and coverage of the game on The Hawk Newspaper’s Instagram story as well. I was shocked and outraged at what I saw: row after row of unmasked basketball fans in the stands of Hagan Arena on St. Joe’s campus. 

Students stood in the crowd with masks pulled down to their chins. Visitors, who are not required to be vaccinated, stood without a mask anywhere near their faces. The stands were indoors and packed to the brim with cheering fans who were screaming and yelling, which causes droplet production just like singing does. 

So much for consistency. 

I’m not at all against the mask rule on campus. I fully understand why it’s in place and honestly, anything that can keep me in my in-person classes until I graduate in the spring is fine by me. 

What I am against is the fact that the rules that exist for our safety and, when we go home, the safety of our families, clearly aren’t being enforced when it comes to things the university deems more important than others. 

Masking is especially important in situations like a basketball game, where visitors come from other schools and towns to our campus and sit right next to each other and St. Joe’s students. 

I am the music director for Hawkappella and a member of University Singers, and any time we rehearse or perform in either of these groups, we are told we must be fully masked and socially distanced. We follow these rules because singing wasn’t allowed for a year and a half, and we’re doing everything we can to keep singing with each other in person and keep each other safe. 

When I see pictures of crowds of unmasked people on our campus, and basketball players spitting and sweating on one another, it’s like a slap in the face. 

Even at the game this past week, I saw people in the stands unmasked. There is only so much the performing arts groups can do to keep the campus safe and in-person, and when the same courtesy isn’t being extended back to us by the rest of the campus, we get really frustrated.

My stance is this: enforce the rule of masking on campus, or get rid of it. Tell crowds that even though basketball is huge on our campus and it makes money for the university, attendees aren’t exempt from needing to mask up anytime they are indoors on campus. 

We have been told by the university that we can’t perform unmasked because of consistency. So, show us consistency. Show us you care about the health of the campus and don’t go easy on the events that bring in money.

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