SWOSU President Encourages Support for Weatherford Mask Directive
To the City of Weatherford, Mayor Brown, and City Council,
On behalf of Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and for the benefit of our students, faculty and staff, I humbly ask that you enact a mask directive for the City of Weatherford. I am well aware that decisions like these are not easy, but I do believe that this action will have a positive effect for our city and the university.
On our campus, we have had a universal masking requirement in place since the beginning of the fall semester. We believe that this action, along with distancing protocols and other safety measures, has resulted in the lack of disease transmission during regular campus operations. We believe that such a rule has helped mitigate the spread of this deadly virus.
SWOSU plans to resume in-person classes and certain activities on campus for the spring semester in January. This plan will have positive effects for our students and the economy of the area. I believe that a mask directive enacted for this community will help us toward this important goal. As we continue to see infection rates increase in our area and state, any step toward safety will make it possible to keep the campus open.
The challenge of the spread of COVID in our community is something that we can overcome. We all owe it to our neighbors to protect each other as much as possible. It is the right thing to do. It is a humanitarian act. It is for the greater good. Such action would not be to impose restrictions on liberty, but to care for each other.
Several decades ago, my father and his generation experienced the Great Depression and were called to war for a great sacrifice. As Tom Brokaw wrote in his famous book that it is “the greatest generation any society has ever produced.” He went on to state, “A common lament of the World War II generation is the absence today of personal responsibility.” Their calling and actions set a high bar for the rest of us.
Today, we should ask ourselves, what are we called to do? The answer is, very little in this instance. But, the time has come. This is the time and place for us to show shared sacrifice and solidarity in a time of crisis. It is time for us to live up to the precedent that the previous generations have set for the rest of us.
This action would follow a philosophy that is as old as the Bible and as clear as the Constitution. There is no violation of constitutional principles here. It is clearly within the power of the government to take such steps. There is, however, a moral manner of conduct whereby we have a duty to protect the most vulnerable of our society. In Genesis, Cain says to the Lord, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The answer to that age-old question, especially at this time, is that we are all truly our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. I hope that this philosophy has resonance with you as you contemplate this matter.
I greatly appreciate your positive consideration of this important matter.
Randy L. Beutler