Tarleton officials and the community respond to student’s lack of social distancing this weekend

Nicholas Ratcliff  

Multimedia Journalist   

Students at Tarleton State University have recently received an email from Dr. James Hurley, the President of Tarleton, addressing the lack of social distancing that was present at many student gatherings over the weekend.  

Students received this email after photos were posted online showing Tarleton students interacting with country music singer Koe Wetzel at various places around town. Several of the photos posted online revealed a lack of social distancing, masks and other safety precautions which has led to a spike in COVID-19 cases on campus Tarleton believes.    

Photo courtesy of Will Van Vessem’s Twitter page.
Koe Wetzel poses with a Tarleton student.

In an email, Dr. Hurley states his disappointment in the Tarleton community and goes on to say, “Following guidelines is not a personal choice. It’s what will keep the university open. Federal, state, local, and university protocols will be strictly adhered to. I should not have to articulate this expectation. We are in the midst of a global pandemic. Understand clearly that the university will focus significant enforcement efforts on those who organize gatherings — on or off-campus, formally or informally — that endanger the health of our community. We will not allow the actions of a small number of our students distort the excellent leadership of the majority.”   

Many students at Tarleton, however, feel as if this is an unfair expectation since most of them are paying the full price of tuition to attend a D1 University despite the global pandemic that has limited that same experience.   

During an interview with Nate Zeller, a sophomore at Tarleton, Zeller explains that he understands why Tarleton must enforce strict regulations on-campus events but that he does not want his every move dictated off-campus.   

“Tarleton should not be in control of what it’s students do at unofficial gatherings. If a group of friends wants to hangout they should be allowed to,” Zeller said.   

Zeller is not the only one who feels this way.  

A recent Tarleton Alumni who wishes to remain anonymous said this about Tarleton’s expectations, “I think college students are going to party, I was also told by a few students that meeting Koe Wetzel was the highlight of them being at Tarleton so far.”   

Be that as it may, many members of the community are worried that college students are going to be the cause of a spike in cases if they continue to ignore CDC guidelines.  

In response to Hurley’s announcement, Paige Lionberger wrote on Facebook, “There are always kids who think they don’t have to follow the rules. They are the ones who are going to make the University shutdown! They want to be adults, then act like one and take this serious!” 

Tarleton is not only worried about keeping its classes open on campus for those that prefer face to face learning, but they are also trying to maintain a safe environment for all of their students and not contribute to the national crisis by allowing cases to skyrocket due to the poor decisions of a few.   

The Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Kelli Styron stated, “Decisions to attend a group function without proper health precautions in place have dire consequences in 2020 as the state and the nation try to push forward through this pandemic. Tarleton State University is trying to create a healthy and safe learning environment and it takes all students doing their individual parts to make that come to fruition.”  

For more information about Tarleton and how they are working to keep students safe amid the pandemic please visit https://www.tarleton.edu/roadmap/index.html

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