Professors demand mask mandate in first campus protest


Briana Corlee

GS professor Rebecca Kennerly calls for more robust COVID-19 protocols on campus. GS’ chapter of the AAUP began their first day of protests for mask mandates at the Russell Union Rotunda on September 13, 2021.

Chase Amoroso, Correspondent

Roughly 20 members of Georgia Southern’s faculty attended the first of a five day protest asking for a mask mandate on campus Monday morning.

“We call on the Board of Regents to immediately implement a mask mandate,”  said Michelle Haberland GS’ American Association of University Professors (AAUP). “It’s what the students want. It’s what the staff wants. It’s what faculty wants,”

The University System of Georgia (USG) does not allow universities to dictate COVID-19 policies like mask mandates and remote learning policies on their own.

Haberland was excited to return to in-person teaching after a year of online class. However she also had spent around 20 days in the intensive care unit and was intubated during her stay. 

“Teaching is my jam,” said Haberland. “It’s what I loved.” 

After coming to class and seeing few students wearing masks or practicing CDC protocols she was worried.

“I’m terrified,” said Haberland. “For the most part I teach in a classroom where students are not wearing masks.”

“I feel guilt,” said Rebbeca Kennerly, Associate professor at GS. “About teaching in classrooms where people can get sick if they don’t take care of themselves.” 

Protests will continue through Friday in designated free speech zones on several USG campuses and are open to all. 

Protests started Monday at 10 a.m. for 30 minutes and continue the next day at the next hour through Friday. For example, Tuesday’s protest begins at 11 a.m. Wednesday begins at noon and so on. 

Organizers stress that it is not a walk-out or strike, and that the protests are staggered to prevent the disruption of instructional time.  

The following schools are expected to have similar protests this week:

  • Albany State University 
  • Augusta University 
  • Columbus State University
  • Dalton State College
  • Kennesaw State University
  • Georgia Gwinnett College
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Georgia Southern University – Statesboro & Savannah campuses
  • Georgia State University
  • Georgia Southwestern University
  • South Georgia State College
  • Savannah State University 
  • University of Georgia
  • University of North Georgia

Editor’s note: The George-Anne has reached out to the university for comment but has not heard back.

Credit: Briana Corlee, George-Anne Creative