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Open Letter on the Elimination of the Mask Mandate

I was appalled this afternoon when, as a member of the Rules Committee, less than 2 hours after I received word from the Secretary of the Faculty Senate that the University was "going to recommend dropping the mask mandate very soon" to discover that "very soon" was tomorrow. TOMORROW.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tricia Serio for Provost who spoke eloquently -- and at length -- about the importance of rebuilding trust at the University. I must tell you that this unilateral action -- with absolutely no consultation -- has utterly violated whatever trust I might have had with the administration.

To spring this cackhanded and misguided maneuver by surprise -- after years where I had respected the administration for taking care to act in a deliberative and consultative fashion during the pandemic -- has stunned me and made me feel extremely unsafe.

Why tomorrow? The Board of Health of the Town of Amherst is meeting on Thursday to discuss the mask mandate. And I understand that Hampshire College has planned to eliminate the mask mandate a week after the students return from spring break. Why are we making no effort to consult with stakeholders and to move forward deliberatively? Why surprise people with this on a Tuesday afternoon?

I am utterly disgusted with the idea that I have devoted huge parts of my professional effort trying to effectively build trust: to work with the Union and the Rules Committee to build an effective relationship between the faculty and the administration. And for what? So that it can be squandered by a high-handed and unilateral action that endangers faculty like myself who must worry -- not only for myself, but for my elderly mother who shares my household.

I am appalled and disgusted.