By: Tal Ershler and Alex Fischer  | 

Letter to the Editor: Just Wear Your Mask

To the Editor:

At some point this week, every single YU student has encountered the question: “How do you feel about the mask mandate?” A recent article published in The Commentator about YU’s new mask mandate answered that quite clearly. That question, however, is inherently flawed — wearing a mask has nothing to do with your feelings. 

No one enjoys wearing a mask. That may seem obvious, but it is important to distinguish between wanting to wear a mask and understanding and respecting the university-instituted mask mandate. Yes, wearing a mask does provide minor physical discomfort and in some cases can lead to “mascne” (mask acne), but prioritizing those minuscule inconveniences over very real threats to our community’s health is dangerously arrogant.

Additionally, it is incumbent upon all of us to take the whole country’s public health into consideration. YU students are going home at the end of the week for the upcoming chagim where they will be interacting with many people across various shuls, cities and states. If there is more virus spread on campus, people may unknowingly bring COVID home to their parents, grandparents and shul members. This can lead to potential spread and illness, and chas v’shalom, death. It is important that we think not only about our community at YU but about those around us and those that we impact. It is our responsibility to consider our chavrutah’s grandmother or our friend’s immunocompromised sibling. 

At the start of the summer, the world felt semi-normal; it felt like a return to pre-pandemic life was near. Unfortunately, however, COVID vaccines are not as effective against the more contagious Delta variant currently circulating in the United States. We are seeing more breakthrough infections, and the CDC and the NYC Department of Health are recommending that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks in public indoor settings in areas where there is substantial or high transmission — New York City included. 

At the time of writing this article, there have been four days of class and five positive cases, as per YU’s announcements to students. We are not epidemiologists, but if this continues to be the way cases develop, we could be looking at another Zoom semester.

To the members of the student body who believed that we would not have a mask mandate this semester, we are sorry. Unfortunately, we have been living in a world where our daily reality changes in an instant,as has been the case for almost two years at this point. We understand how badly you have all waited to be able to have in-person events and for those events to be maskless –– for things to be “back to normal.”We want the same, but please consider the alternative. None of us want to go back to Zoom events or classes. Beyond that, none of us could ever dream of bearing the responsibility of spreading illness or causing hospitalization.

Lastly, it is important to mention that life has rules. We are at an establishment that has chosen to enact a rule. You all choose to be here. It’s time to start following the rule. 

From only following our normal daily routines, we have noticed that few people on Wilf Campus abide by the mask mandate issued by the university. In fact, we have even noticed some people specifically going out of their way to get around or disobey the mandate. 

The week before the yamim noraim is a great time to think more about other people and what we can do to protect them.

Follow the rule. It’s not worth the risk. Just wear your mask.