Clemson issues mask mandate night before profs set to protest
The mandate will last at least three weeks and took effect the night before classes started.
The University of South Carolina will also join Clemson in mandating masks on campus.
A planned protest against Clemson University's lack of mask mandate has been rendered moot after the college instated a three-week mask mandate last night, on the eve of the first day of classes.
Campus Reform obtained the university-wide email, which announced that the mandate would take effect immediately. It reads, in part:
"Following the South Carolina Supreme Court decision announced earlier today which permits higher education institutions to require a universal mask mandate, Clemson will require masks in all of its statewide buildings including classrooms, instructional facilities, offices, labs, and residential and dining halls except while eating or in private spaces."
Prior to the announcement of the mandate, professors had planned to stage a walk-out to protest the lack of masking requirements. Professor Kimberley Paul, who organized the protest, had urged her colleagues to bring protest signs to Bowman Field today. She dubbed the event "Walkout Wednesday for a Mask Mandate." A Facebook event description says, "The lack of a mask mandate is endangering the health and lives of all of us. University Leadership [sic] is not listening to us."
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Paul told Campus Reform, "I started this out of deep concern for all of us here at Clemson. Seeing the President's tweet of the Freshman Convocation, with that crowd of unmasked faces, was horrifying. It was clear that neither the students nor the University administration were taking the current viral threat seriously enough."
On Tuesday, an event still went forward with 10-15 people in attendance, but not necessarily a protest. Paul and her fellow professors passed out masks to students.
She told Campus Reform, "[I] urge [the] Clemson administration to extend their mask mandate from 3 weeks to the end of the semester, as well as continue to teach others about the virus and how it can be prevented.
"There’s a lot of misinformation out there about COVID-19, and as educators we can start those important conversations," Paul said.
The university had previously encouraged, but not required, all students to wear a mask indoors. The new mandate follows a decision from the South Carolina Supreme Court declaring that state law does not prohibit public universities from requiring masks.
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Communications professor Andrew Pyle tweeted his support for the protest on Sunday, asking tenured colleagues to join the walk-out.
The University of South Carolina also changed its policy following the court decision: The university will begin requiring masks on campus effective at 7 p.m. tonight.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito