Masking and Community Values in Gender & Women’s Studies
In light of our campus administration’s policy – making masking an individual decision on our campus – we, as a feminist community, want to offer a counter-practice grounded in feminist ethics of care, disability justice, mutual accountability, and the notion of collective access. We believe that health is more than an individual choice; we understand it as part of a larger ecology of care and responsibility towards each other and to our many communities.
We reject the language and ideologies behind the idea of the “vulnerable minority” as the only members of our society who must take extra precautions to stay safe. We believe that people should not be required to declare their health status in order to ensure their safety. Instead we want to prioritize the knowledge and tools that we have collectively gained throughout the (ongoing) pandemic, which recognize the fact that we all are connected and, therefore, share the responsibility to keep each other safe.
Emerging from this deeply feminist recognition of our interdependence, and from an ethic of mutual care, we ask everyone entering GWS spaces and classrooms to wear masks covering both nose and mouth (unless breathing equipment or the like makes that impossible). And we ask anyone with a current diagnosis or recent exposure to COVID to avoid these spaces during those periods.
A truly public education depends upon a community of care that enables equitable and just access. The pandemic has made that more obvious than ever. We call upon our community to draw on what we’ve learned over the last two years and support practices that protect us all and through that enable a community that can be enriched by all our presence and voices.
This statement was drawn in large part from a similar document written by the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Syracuse University. Our gratitude for their work.