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Penn State’s Threats To Close Campus Rec Don’t Move The Needle

Penn State held fast against implementing a vaccine mandate, but when it comes to enforcing masking mandates, it’s falling short. 

Over the summer, Penn State announced that masks would be required inside campus buildings across all campuses. When not requiring vaccines due to fears that Pennsylvania’s government would cut funding, that seems like the reasonable thing to do.

For the most part, Penn State students are doing their part and wearing masks where they are required. Despite it being asked of them, students are finally being able to enjoy a semi-normal college experience with the return of in-person classes, football, among other things, and most students seem to want to protect that experience. 

Some professors are also doing their part, both by enforcing within their classes or protesting and holding “Zoom-Ins” earlier this semester. 

It’s certainly hopeful to see this behavior within the community, especially after a year and a half of an exhausting pandemic. What doesn’t provide hope is the unfair threat to close campus recreation.

Penn State Student Affairs threatened to close facilities such as the IM Building, White Building, and Hepper Fitness Center due to a lack of cooperation with the masking requirements. Campus Rec claimed that more than 75 patrons were already asked to leave for not wearing masks.

This potential temporary pause in operations may sound fair on the surface, but when you look around and notice the overall lack of enforcement that we’ve seen in previous semesters, it’s difficult to see where Penn State lands on this matter.

Penn State hasn’t done much else to police masking around campus. While the majority of students, faculty, and staff are doing their part and masking, there will always be a small group of those who don’t. Whether it’s a group of students in the HUB or one or two walking through the hallway of a class building, no one is around to correct them. 

So when Penn State threatens to take something due to non-compliance with its rules while not really enforcing them, it appears rather iron-fisted and unfair. Being unmasked in line for food in the HUB is all right, but in the IM Building? Unforgivable.

In fact, it seems less about protecting the community and more about making a statement due to a small number of people not cooperating. If Penn State wants its rules followed, it should apply them everywhere, not just in the on-campus gyms.

Of course, as Peter Parker once said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” It is indeed our responsibility as students to follow the rules in order to, above all, protect our community, as well as keep campus open. However, this shouldn’t fall solely on students. 

It takes two to tango, and quite frankly, Penn State has left its students, faculty, and staff, on their own. It’s been exhausting, but we all need to pull our weight, follow the rules, and keep each other honest in order to keep each other healthy.

So please, just wear your mask. And Penn State, please realize that you’re in this just as much as we are. 

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About the Author

Anna Wiggins

Anna is a junior public relations major and one of Onward State's social media editors. Hailing from Washington D.C. (aka Alexandria, VA), she loves 80's and 90's rock, ironic L.L. Bean Boat and Tote bags, and was born in a pink hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @annaewiggins. Please send all of your best gossip to [email protected]

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