Trinity has betrayed students’ trust

Now that the semester is drawing to a close, Trinity students and administration have the opportunity to look back at the COVID regulations of the past few months and see how they fared.

On one hand, we can praise the administration for their caution during this pandemic. There have been very few COVID-19 cases at Trinity, and much of that can be attributed to the 96% vaccination rate and the high usage of masks among the Trinity population. We can also praise the university for continuing to track potential COVID cases with free on-campus testing. Combine this with San Antonio reporting some of the best COVID numbers it has had in months, and things look great for Trinity. However, in their pursuit of caution, the university has also betrayed the trust afforded to it by the students.

In October, the university held two events that prove it only cares about enforcing the rules set on its students and student organizations when it’s most convenient. On Alumni Weekend, dozens of photos and videos circulated showing hundreds of alumni without masks and not social distancing. As the president of the Young Conservatives of Texas chapter here at Trinity I know that if a student organization had held this event, they would have faced a litany of scrutiny from the administration for being so careless and putting the university at risk.

Alumni Relations responded to questions from the Trinitonian on Nov. 1 by stating that they enforced the rules “to the best of their abilities” and that everyone was required to provide a negative COVID test. Compare these to the rules imposed on students where off-campus guests are not allowed if they are not vaccinated, and COVID policies must always be followed. For example, the Young Conservatives of Texas and Catholic Student Group have not been allowed to bring multiple speakers because of their vaccination status. But, Alumni Relations was allowed to disregard that rule as long as the alumni submitted to another COVID test.

The second event, the Flocktoberfest Concert, did not have as much social media attention from the university, but it showed the failings of the regulations in a similar way. The mask policy proved impossible to enforce once everyone started enjoying the concert, with many going up to the concert venue not wearing a mask at all. Afterward, business resumed as usual, every student required to wear a mask around those they just partied maskless with.

You know what? More power to all the students that, even if it was for a brief moment, defied Trinity’s mandates.

The student population has gone above and beyond what the university has ever asked for, and they have received nothing for their efforts. Before the semester, the university told students that they would reevaluate their policies in September with the perceived intention of rolling back some policies, at least for the vaccinated. Trinity refused to deliver.

Instead, they kicked the can down the road with the excuse of “San Antonio is still a hotspot and children under 12 can’t be vaccinated,” but they said they would reevaluate them later. Now that later has come, San Antonio is no longer a hotspot, children under 12 can get vaccinated and Trinity still refuses to deliver, a later in which the university also has half the test positivity rate of San Antonio (.8% vs. 1.6%). “After much consideration, masks will continue to be required on campus in indoor spaces through the end of the semester,” an email from Nov. 2 reads.

As much as I blame the university administration, some blame must also rest with the student body and the Editor’s Desk. Instead of calling out the university for betraying students’ trust, students have resigned themselves to giving up. The Editor’s Desk of the Trinitonian perhaps being the most egregious example of giving up and doing nothing in one of their September columns where all they had to say was “Everyone’s tired, and we are too.”

Trinity’s draconian policies have taken a toll on the student body so large that we may not know the full effects of it for another year or two. How many student organizations have effectively died? How much has Trinity set back the social life on campus? How many mental health crises were exacerbated because of Trinity’s COVID policies? It’s hard to say. What I do know is that COVID is not going away anytime soon, so nothing will change on campus. We will deal with these same policies next semester unless the students, in one loud voice, say, “enough is enough.”

“He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.” – Thomas Aquinas.