By The Editorial Board
Monday marked the first day in nearly two years when students, faculty and staff walked into a classroom without having to remember to put on their masks. Now, they walk into classrooms and immediately notice who has a mask on and who doesn’t — and with that comes immediate judgment. Judgment is passed from non-mask-wearers to mask-wearers and vice versa, meaning this applies to everyone. You don’t get to make commentary on someone else’s personal choice. No one has the right to bully someone else for doing what they believe is right.
Your decisions and actions may be right for you, but that does not mean it is the perfect decision for anyone other than you. What you do does not determine what someone else should and would do, because your experience is completely separate from that of your neighbors.
The pandemic turned so many peoples’ worlds upside down in every sense. We had to learn what to do with loads of free time and not spiral in the meantime. There are so many things that have come to light and changed the way we operate during the pandemic, and it’s clear that those circumstances now influence how we see the world. The judgment that happens when someone voluntarily chooses to wear a mask — or doesn’t — may go deeper than what’s first noticed.
There are plenty of reasons for someone to wear a mask, just as there are plenty of reasons someone may choose to not wear a mask. What you see externally is just a small glimpse into what someone may be going through and thinking. You don’t know about their situation, just like they don’t know your reasons for wearing a mask or not. For example, someone may live in close quarters with a person who is high-risk, so they may need to wear a mask. Or, because research has shown that N95 masks are most effective but haven’t been required by Baylor, a disposable mask isn’t needed either.
While the university has decided to do away with the university-wide mask mandate, the level of respect you are expected to show those around you has not faltered. While a professor cannot require you to wear a mask in their classroom, you should still be considerate if they request you wear a mask in their private office, where they still have jurisdiction. While a classmate is by no means allowed to tell you to take your mask off or put one on (even through pointed looks or whispers), you should still pay them the same respect you’d like them to give you.
As you go to classes, bear in mind that Baylor’s COVID-19 team has made the decision to do away with mask requirements to allow people to make the decision to wear a mask or not for themselves. They should be able to go into the world wearing whatever they want to or don’t want to without having to undergo harsh looks from people who know nothing about their reasoning. Masks are now a normal part of life, just like any other article of clothing. So, just as you don’t think twice about someone wearing a hat or not, don’t think twice about someone who does or doesn’t wear a mask.