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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M athletics should reconsider COVID-19 guidelines

There+are+signs+posted+throughout+Kyle+Field+and+announcements+played+over+speakers+to+remind+spectators+to+wear+face+coverings.
Photo by Meredith Seaver

There are signs posted throughout Kyle Field and announcements played over speakers to remind spectators to wear face coverings.

Once a precedent is set, there is no going back.

Announced Tuesday, Aug. 24 through a football program press release, Louisiana State University will require all fans attending football games at Tiger Stadium to provide either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to kickoff. 

With another major university in the Southeastern Conference taking such bold measures for others to follow in the name of public safety, one question immediately arises — should Texas A&M do the same? 

Yes, absolutely, 100 percent.

According to LSU President William F. Tate IV, the decision was made as part of a commitment to the school’s community and all impacted by it.

“As the flagship institution of the state of Louisiana, our foremost responsibility is to ensure the safety of our students, our supporters and our community,” Tate said in the press release. “The current threat to our lives, our health and to our medical systems due to COVID-19 is overburdening our hospitals, and we must do our part to stop the spread.”

So, by A&M not taking similar precautions, is the university administration simply saying it doesn’t care about ‘the safety of our students, our supporters and our community’ as held by our neighbors just one state over? Is A&M scared of backlash from government entities, other schools or fans wearing maroon and white?

The answer is an unfortunate and complex entanglement of many factors, yet none hold enough merit to prevent us from following Louisiana State’s lead. 

First, Gov. Greg Abbott tried to appeal to his ever-shrinking fanbase by issuing an executive order prohibiting vaccine mandates, then made matters disastrously worse by threatening fines against entities which don’t support his policies. Quite frankly, these bully tactics are immature at best, and the Supreme Court has already taken a stance in opposition to Abbott by siding with Indiana University’s vaccination requirements. Having not gone through any actual legislative body, the executive order leaves wiggle room for A&M to step up and implement policies of its own — school districts across the state have already done the same. Texans have already seen Abbott is not truly in favor of bodily autonomy, so I don’t believe he should be speaking on the matter regardless, but that’s a conversation for another day.

In addition to the Texas governor’s actions, A&M is also limited by the political stance of many of its current students, graduates and sources of funding. Though the issue of COVID-19 has been politicized beyond recognition, we must not forget, first and foremost, we are dealing with a pandemic a global health crisis unlike anything else seen in our generation. The full vaccination rate of the Brazos Valley is about 43 percent, making it a “high transmission area,” and the student population at A&M is even lower at an estimated 20 to 25 percent. With these numbers, it is possible students will contract the virus at every single football game if proper preventative measures are not implemented. 

So I ask our readers who refuse to get tested or vaccinated before visiting Kyle Field is making a stand really worth the health and safety of your fellow Aggies? 

Lastly, for the naysayers who still buy into the conspiracy theories surrounding the vaccine, it should be noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has now approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This means it has been deemed just as safe as any other preventative vaccination already required by A&M, such as those set to ward off bacterial meningitis. A mandate for this now-authorized COVID-19 vaccine is not outside the realm of possibility.

With every fiber of my being, I truly believe A&M administrative decisions should be made based on how well a topic aligns with our great university’s Core Values, and requiring testing or vaccinations at football games certainly fits the bill. The measures would show respect by unconditionally supporting those who are at a greater risk for infection; excellence by ensuring the team gets to take the field every week, which is not a guarantee without proper measures; leadership by setting an example in collegiate athletics for others to follow; loyalty by coming together and standing as a solidified unit; integrity by setting proper priorities and constantly pursuing the fulfillment of them; selfless service by accepting a minor inconvenience such as getting tested in support of the greater cause.

There is no reason A&M shouldn’t consider putting in place the same precautions set by LSU. There is a precedent in the SEC, and if A&M football is determined to climb to the top of that food chain, it needs to use every advantage offered to it. Just like everyone else, I want to see our boys in maroon and white lifting a national championship trophy come January. But that can’t happen without the administration first taking a stand on this issue.

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