Marquette reacts to new mask mandate

Mask+Up+Marquette+posters+encourage+students+to+wear+their+masks+in+indoor+public+spaces.+

Photo by Josh Meitz

Mask Up Marquette posters encourage students to wear their masks in indoor public spaces.

Marquette University required all undergraduate, graduate and professional students attending classes on campus to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Aug. 1, according to June 7 university news release. Certain students were granted exemption from this authorization for medical, personal and religious reasons. However, those who are granted exemption from being vaccinated must undergo surveillance testing for COVID-19.

Shortly after July 30, Marquette recommended that all students — regardless of vaccination status — wear masks again in indoor spaces. Then in alignment with the City of Milwaukee Health Department’s indoor mask advisory after Milwaukee was considered to have an “extreme transmission” status regarding COVID-19, Marquette announced Aug. 17 they would be requiring masks on campus in public indoor spaces. This is due to the rapid increase in Delta Variant related cases.

Marquette’s COVID-19 response team is continuing to follow rates of transmission, monitor the Milwaukee Health Department’s advice in how to slow the spread and assess other protocols in adjustment to mitigation strategies.

Students have expressed a variety of opinions about Marquette requiring masks in shared spaces.

Brigitte Lindell, a first-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences, does not mind having to wear a mask on campus this year since as it is “for our safety.”

“I think it is a precautionary choice that could very well benefit the Marquette community and the amount of COVID-19 cases on campus,” Lindell said. “Although it may be annoying for some people, I think it is the right choice because there is so much that is still unknown.”

Overall, Lindell said that the mask mandate was a good decision because if COVID-19 cases rise again, the university will know that they took every safety precaution possible to prevent an outbreak.

“Because we do not know a ton about the Delta variant and how it will impact those with or without the vaccine at this point, I think it is a precautionary choice that could very well benefit the Marquette community,” Lindell said.

However, Nathan Vogt, a sophomore in the College of Nursing, does not believe Marquette students should have to wear a mask if they received the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I can see both sides of the perspective on wearing masks … people ages 18-22 are at low risk. People at risk may continue to wear a mask while it should be a personal choice,” Vogt said in an email.

A majority of Marquette students have uploaded proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

Vogt also said he was not comfortable receiving the COVID-19 vaccine since it was not approved by the Food and Drug Administration at the time of the requirement. He said that he received the vaccine under the impression that he would not have to wear a mask on campus.

Since Vogt received the vaccine, the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Aug. 23.

Sophie Freisleben, a sophomore in the College of Nursing, does not mind wearing a mask, but also feels like Marquette should only require masks for those who are unvaccinated.

Freisleben understands why Marquette requires masks on campus since most other universities are also requiring them due to the Delta variant.

“I understand the importance of wearing a mask to protect those around us, but I feel that on campus it should be a personal choice for those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19,” Freisleben said.

Since Aug. 22 there have been two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Marquette’s campus.

This story was written by Julia Abuzzahab. She can be reached at julianna.abuzzahab@marquette.edu