The vast majority of Duke students are being great about the ongoing annoyance of masking in campus buildings and as one of Duke's many "essential" workers I truly appreciate that. But there is a significant minority that seem to think that the rules just don't apply. This letter is for them.
We have been on campus, in some cases straight through since y'all left last March. Despite hiring freezes and cuts to our budgets, we've kept the buildings clean, the facilities functioning, and supported your online learning. With no warning we invented and implemented new ways to do our work in order to support you. Since you came back, we've made sure that you have food, mail, books, working labs and the technology you need. In short, we've done everything we can to create the best college experience possible for you given the circumstances.
We have small children and at-risk family that we care for. Some of us have medical conditions that put us at higher risk for COVID, some have lost loved ones. None of us have a choice about whether or not we are in campus buildings and we are all physically and emotionally exhausted. I wish I didn't have to wear a mask. As a person with a hearing disability who lip-reads, I really wish you could take yours off.
I'm sorry you have to wear a mask. I'm even sorrier that it's become part of my job to tell people to mask up, to watch them roll their eyes at me like spoiled pre-teens and to know that the people I've worked so hard to support think so little of the ones around them. I'm most sorry that some of these are the same people who are angered by the 'Karens' on social media and don't recognize themselves.
It'd be nice if you could do more than talk about equity or privilege and offer up some actual consideration for others.
Andrea Riley is a Duke University staff member.