It’s time to unmask the bus mask mandate

guest column

I stared at my Diet Dr. Pepper on the LL-Loop Bus. “How could such a simple cola pack such a zesty and delicious punch, all with zero calories?” My mouth started to salivate, but I couldn’t drink it.

I wondered, “Why am I waiting to drink this thing?” Of course, the answer is Duke’s strict mask policies on buses. Some Duke bus drivers have been rather draconian about the mask policy, but I don’t blame them. Part of their role is to enforce the rules handed down to them by those administrators who actually created the guidelines.

The question that I, and other Duke students, have is this: why is it that masks are only required on the bus? Why enforce this exception to the policy (adherent with Durham’s own guidelines) that masks should be optional everywhere else?

In an attempt to steelman their use, I thought of a litany of ways the masks are a boon instead of a bane. “It must be to protect the older bus drivers,” I thought. But this doesn’t make sense, because Duke faculty are also older folks, and we stripped the requirement for masks in classroom settings. “It must be to protect the broader Durham community, as others from outside Duke may ride the buses,” I reasoned. But this doesn’t make sense either, if these community members ever were to go inside any mask-optional Duke facility or building.

The more students I talk to, the more responses I get of, “It’s stupid.” From the communists on campus to the most staunch of conservatives, Duke policymakers have finally found a way to foster common ground between the extremes of the student body with one idea.

Perhaps it is time to stop caring about optics, and start allowing your poor students to sip their Diet Dr. Peppers.

Sean Keating is a Trinity senior.


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