Dr. Elizabeth Corey and Compassionate Conservatism 

Jenna Lee

If you are like most politically-inclined individuals, you probably enjoy watching YouTube videos or reading popular culture articles with titles like, “Person X DESTROYS College Student With FACTS and LOGIC,” or, “Person Y EXPOSES THE HYPOCRISY of Person Z.” You get the gist, perhaps the names of certain political commentators come to mind. These types of videos seem to promote bellicose behavior and an echo-chamber environment. So, why is it that these articles and videos get millions of clicks and reshares each time they are born into the internet’s chaos? 

“The Love for Hate”

Why are conservatives so easily dragged into bitterness, paranoia, and lament of the culture? Dr. Elizabeth Corey, a political science professor of Baylor University, came to Trinity on November 15th to answer this question. She called attention to the increasing negativity stemming from conservatives and the profitability of cynicism. While sensational journalism has always been lucrative, the emergence of social media only added fuel to the fire, inflaming the absurd and damning its readers to feel hopeless and isolated. As refreshing as it is to see some uplifting news in the media, the number of views pales in comparison to the views on the catastrophic, so-horrible-you-can’t-look-away news. 

Dr. Corey addresses this fact as humanity’s “love for hatred”; we have an affinity for the outrageous and dwelling on the ugly. In the conservative sphere of the media, negative news that is critical of today’s culture can be comforting because everyone agrees. When attacked by something, it is human nature to either fire back or shrink away. Pessimistic conservative attitudes are a form of firing back, or ‘warrior conservatism’ as Dr. Corey calls it. On the other hand, inaction or avoiding a constructive conversation would be conservative “squishiness.” So, how can a productive conservative balance these?

The Cure to Cynicism 

The solution that Dr. Corey proposes to spark positive change on the conservative side is to embrace the good. This means first understanding that many news articles that we are exposed to are widely sensationalized for the sole purpose of appealing to the need for the outrageous. Also, this means returning to rationality, which is often overridden by negative emotions. Those who identify with the conservative movement should look at their direct surroundings and environments and observe the immense number of blessings. Gratitude should come first. There should be a drive to do beneficial, positive things around one’s community instead of pessimistic inaction. Finally, Dr. Corey explains that there should be a restraint on “warrior conservatism” and engaging in political conversation only to have that “I told you so” moment. Conservatives need to back away from the meanness and irony and, instead, embrace and advertise that which is good. 

Beauty of Tradition

Dr. Corey gives an example of “that which is good”: some traditions from the past. These could be religion, a strong family unit, or gracious debate. Instead of fighting in culture wars, conservatives should establish their own. Criticism cannot be the right’s only hallmark. There needs to be a renaissance of the conservative movement’s own art and culture.

To Conclude

The main takeaway from Dr. Corey’s speech was the necessity of learning to live gladly. A little gratitude and graciousness can go a long way in today’s political climate. By rising above the desire to be negative, the conservative movement can become an undeniable force for goodness and truth. All it takes is positive change in the aspects of our lives that can be controlled. 

A Nudge in the Right Direction? Richard Thaler and Libertarian Paternalism 

Sylvia Patterson

We don’t often stop to think about the thousands of influences that contribute to the decisions we make every day, or the hidden forces that may be exploiting our psychology to act a certain way. The nudge is one such force, and although it seems like an innocent reminder, as we will learn, we should never underestimate the effect of the nudge.

Bounded Rationality 

It was an economist named Dr. Richard Thaler who defined the idea of the nudge, beginning with the idea that human beings are not rational creatures. Thaler was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2017 for his contributions to Behavioral Economics. His awarding was met with a degree of controversy due to the merging of the field of Psychology with Economics.

On October 10, 2020, Dr. Richard Thaler spoke at Trinity University. Despite his prestigious place in the world of academia, Thaler came across as a very knowledgeable, yet down to earth and even humorous speaker, someone who illustrated his points through a series of entertaining stories, real world examples of human nature. 

Dr. Thaler stressed the importance of that which economic theory tends to ignore, most crucially, the fact that human beings are not rational. Humans have bounded rationality and bounded willpower, and will more often than not submit to temptation in the moment, rather than act for the long-term good. This is because, for most of human history, people did not live long enough to worry about saving. This is why long term planning is evolutionarily one of the spheres where rationality falls short. 

Through his research, Thaler found that people have a strong tendency to keep what they have. Although economic theory says that the people who value something the most will end up with it, in reality, status quo bias comes into play, and people have the tendency to stick with what they have, what he refers to as ‘inertia.’ The tendency toward inertia can be utilized through a type of nudge. 

The Default

In real life, Thaler used his work to nudge people into choosing the optimal pension plan that would allow them to save the most in the long run. Instead of having them opt into the program, they were automatically enrolled as the default option and instead would have to opt out. It was successful in getting people that normally wouldn’t have saved to acquire a retirement fund. The idea of the nudge all comes down to choice architecture, or how you create the environment in which people choose. 

Nudges are a part of choice architecture because they are features of the environment that influence humans. According to Thaler, nudging is not taking away choices, it is choice preserving, or  “libertarian paternalism,” which, Thaler explains, is not an oxymoron. Essentially, we are encouraged to act a certain way, but the choice is still ours.

One of the most powerful types of nudges is the default. By changing the default option, we can change people’s choices. Because of people’s tendency toward loss aversion, and their resistance to change options, or inertia as Thaler called it, the desired outcome happens if they simply do nothing. Thus, a new default, or automatic enrollment, can achieve the optimal goal. 

Libertarian Paternalism

This research comes with a series of implications, first, that nudges are very powerful, and second, that the effects are long lasting. The work of Richard Thaler shows us that human nature is key to understanding any human decision, and that we can nudge for good. But the question remains: are all nudges good?

At the end of the day, there are nudges all around us, more than we think, and not often as nobly applied as in the pension-plan case. Some common examples of this marketing tactic include, the default “subscribe and save” option on Amazon, pop-up announcements or reminders from websites, a psychological anchor, like a visible before and after price on a good, or even simply the relative ease or noticeability of a choice, such as the placement of food items in a cafeteria. 

In the right hands, the nudge can be used to influence productive and beneficial behavior in individuals, but at the least, it is a clever marketing tactic.  But this leaves the unanswered question: can the nudge be used for ill?

The Nefarious Nudge

The concept of the nudge gets the most murky when it comes to the government and policy enforcement. Although Thaler published a paper defending libertarian paternalism, our instinct is to see it as something dystopian. Needless to say, the nudge has not been without its fair share of criticism. It’s human nature to bristle at the thought of a powerful entity subtly influencing us into making the desired choice. Where do we draw the line with the nudge? Ultimately, who determines what the “right” decision is? The Nudge can be used for good, but like any phenomenon, it can also be abused

Already, we have witnessed the rise of the Behavioral Insights Team (BIT), also known as the ‘Nudge Unit’, which is a “ global social purpose company” founded in 2010. The BIT has offices around the world, including in the UK where it began, as well as in America, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Latin America. The BIT uses social engineering based on behavioral insights and tactics from psychology and marketing to influence public thought and decision making to be in compliance with government policy. The goal is to minimize costs related to poor compliance of government policy and regulation. 

The BIT has done work in a variety of concepts, from assessing the risk of gambling, to more overtly progressive political goals, like designing ways to get people to drive less to reduce emissions, studying how to establish diversity task forces, and running numerous experiments to find the most effective way to use social norms to get people to wear masks during COVID. 

Nudge theory has also been used to nudge people into getting the COVID vaccine. Researchers used reminders that were “carefully designed to reduce barriers to following through” in addition to “behaviourally informed messaging designed to amplify individuals’ desire to get vaccinated” and “information-provision intervention aimed at correcting the misconceptions that drive vaccine hesitancy”. What else could be achieved by nudge units if they so desired? 

Due to the Nudge Unit’s success, a number of similar organizations have since popped up around the world. According to OECD, there are 202 institutions across the globe that have applied behavioral insights to public policy. Most people don’t know that these organizations exist, or that they are influencing compliance and promoting their goals all around us. 

What is most off-putting is the fact that nudges are not transparent about their objectives. Instead of being forthright about their desired policy, they rely on manipulative methods to achieve their goals. At what point does the nudge become deceit? When does it become subversive? At what point does it become unethical? Governments and corporations see the need to act as a parent-figure and guide us in the “right” direction, as if we are not worthy of hearing a logical argument and making a decision based on evidence and reasoning.

Closing thoughts 

Originally used to help clients save for the future, the concept of the nudge has since been adopted in politics, finance, retail, and beyond. It is important to be aware of this phenomenon, how it can not only help you, but also how it can hurt you. Due to human nature and imperfect information, it is impossible to be perfectly rational. We should, however, learn all that we can and ultimately strive for rationality. Only then will we be free to make the best decision for ourselves, not the decision that other entities nudge us towards. The first step is to identify and accept that we are irrational, and understand how these irrationalities can be manipulated for a desired outcome. Then, we can consciously, rather than subconsciously, choose whether to follow or resist the nudges we encounter. 

Christian Watson Criticizes Critical Race Theory

When Christian Watson, spokesperson for Color Us United, came to Trinity University to talk about critical race theory (CRT), it was evident that the event would be controversial. Color Us United is an organization that advocates for a “race-blind America.”  The audience gathered in Chapman Great Hall was composed of Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) members, a table of liberal students, and a handful of other students interested in hearing Watson’s take on CRT. When asked how he decided to come to Trinity, he replied, “It wasn’t hard at all. I was invited, and I came.” 

Watson was raised by a liberal single mother, but as he grew older, he was exposed to alternative perspectives and started attending seminars that sparked his interest. When asked how he became interested in critical race theory, Watson explained that as an African American man, he interacted with CRT in his personal life and tended to have conversations about it, which led to “a deeper intellectual interest.”  Watson says he approaches his viewpoints from the perspective of  “philosophy, reason, and debate.”

Watson’s thesis is that the so-called diversity that is popular in America does not reflect true diversity. Today’s idea of diversity is limited to identity, a superficial way to sum up an individual. Judging someone simply on external criteria, as many institutions are prone to do for diversity action programs, ultimately gives an incomplete picture of a nuanced human being. He explained that diversity is naturally all around us, in our skills, abilities, personal beliefs, and interests. “Everyone has unique abilities and certain gifts which they must identify.” The problem is that society tries to push people away from their natural gifts and make them conform to a stereotype of what they’re supposed to be and how they’re supposed to behave. Watson concluded with a statement echoing the transcendentalists of time gone by: “Knowing yourself is the most important tool that you could possibly have in this life.”  

After he finished his lecture, a question and answer session followed. As mentioned before, a group of liberal students came to question him. They asked him about the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, to which he replied that Biden nominated her based on race alone, rather than qualification, a perfect subversion of how it should be. When questioned about police brutality against African Americans, Watson countered, “What police brutality?” He said that the idea of systematic racism in the police force was a myth contrived by the leftist media and that the police were inherently good people. Another question came up about intentional inclusivity in the workplace, and he said it was absolutely not a good idea; people should be hired based on abilities rather than identity. This all goes back to the concept of the color-blind system Watson promotes, to ultimately treat everyone equally. 

Christian Watson’s key takeaway is to judge people based on their ideas and what they have to offer, rather than based on external criteria, a lesson that the world desperately needs to hear. His personal experience as an African American in a world distorted by critical race theory drives home the true significance of his message. Watson was an excellent speaker, convicted in his beliefs, which he explained clearly and concisely. Christian Watson delivered a refreshing and thought-provoking critique of critical race theory to the Trinity University students who gathered to hear him and his ideas.

Cover photo taken by Ellis Jacoby.

University of the Incarnate Word Relaxes Mask Mandate Policies

On March 18, 2022, the University of the Incarnate Word finally allowed students and faculty to choose whether to wear a mask indoors on campus regardless of their vaccination status when the university updated its mask policy.

This updated policy gives students and faculty the ability to decide whether to wear their masks inside campus facilities. Some may see this as an issue because it could cause students to look down upon one another regarding their choice to wear or not wear a mask. 

Dr. Trey Guinn, Associate Professor and the Director of Communication Arts, highly respects the university administration’s ability to navigate the situation regarding COVID-19 protocols said that “I really have a lot of utmost respect and appreciation for administrators who are navigating unknown waters and the university’s ability to take information, process it, synthesize it, and help be guided by information coming from medical professionals and experts. I really commend and applaud.” Guinn expresses his hopes for the university moving forward. “My greatest hope is sort-of how people treat and respect one another. So, for instance, if the person next to you is wearing a mask and you are not or vice versa, how do we respond to one another? Do we still see them as our brother and our sister? Or do we now start seeing like, ‘Well, I’m this way, and you’re that way’? You know, the way sort-of people can create partisan lines around things like politics and a person’s choice to wear a mask or not wear a mask should not create partisan type lines.” Guinn concludes, “…if we are going to be in a community where some people are, and some people aren’t, that people love each other all the same.” Respecting each other’s opinions, choices, and values is prevalent in today’s society, specifically concerning COVID-19. 

Melanie Calimag Gonzalez, a Communication Arts student, concentrating in Media and Culture, expresses her thoughts on the updated mask policy. “I’m surprised that way more people took their masks off… I just hope that with this policy that COVID-19 cases don’t rise.” From the beginning of the pandemic until now, students and faculty were required to wear facial masks indoors in all campus facilities. Calimag Gonzalez says she feels a sense of nostalgia when seeing individuals not wearing masks. “It’s giving me nostalgia from before 2020 and a sense of normality that I had missed. I’m still wearing my mask because it doesn’t really bother me. I’m used to it.” Although Calimag Gonzalez will continue to wear her mask inside campus facilities, she does not want to impose on those who choose not to wear a mask. “Plus, I am still seeing people getting [COVID-19], so I don’t want to have it nor spread it. But I’m not going to fight or go off on anybody because it’s their own choice. I’m just going to respect it and continue doing what I think is good. Whether my peers wear their masks or not is their own opinion.” The sense of normalcy has been altered since the start of the pandemic, with publications with headlines reading “the new normal.” However, with this shift back to the “old normal,” students and faculty may have been feeling hesitant about their choice of whether to wear a mask.  

Since the start of the pandemic, it has been unusual to see our classmates and faculty without masks. However, hopefully with the new mask policy in place, we can start respecting one another’s opinions and know that we can only control what we do, and we can’t control how someone will react to what we do. 

Cover photo taken by Marisa Allen.

University of North Texas Protesters Cancel Event on Child Gender Transitioning

Far left activists disrupted an event put on by the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) at the University of North Texas last week on Wednesday, March 2nd. YCT invited Jeff Younger to speak on the medical gender transition of children in an event titled “Criminalize Child Transitions,” but he could barely get any words in edgewise. 

Younger, a candidate running for Texas House District 63, has attracted nationwide attention after he lost custody of his 9-year-old twins because he opposed the medical transition of one of them. His ex-wife has been pushing for the child’s gender transition since the child was 3-years-old.

The room was filled with the chants, screams, and yells of the left wing protesters who refused to let Younger speak. In attendance was about 30 supporters along with some 90 protesters, but there were hundreds more protesters outside. 

Younger tried to speak for about 45 minutes, but he was eventually escorted through mobs of protesters to a waiting vehicle outside. The left wing protesters reportedly harassed the leaving conservative students, but the protesters biggest target was Kelly Neidert. 

Kelly Neidert, the former Chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas chapter at UNT, organized the event and invited Younger to come. She was forced to hide in a closet with a police officer due to the aggressive protesters preventing her from getting into a vehicle to leave.

“Before the event, the police assessed the situation and decided that if things seemed to be getting dangerous, Jeff and I would be evacuated. When police took us out, I was separated from the police escort because some of the protestors blocked me with their signs. I missed the car that was waiting for me, so two other officers ended up helping me and tried to get me in another car. That didn’t work, so they put me in the closest building. Protestors breached that building so I was put in a janitors closet while protestors looked around for me.”

This isn’t something new for Kelly though; she has been subject to threats, doxxing, and a petition to have her expelled from the school over the past year.

UNT President Smatresk issued a statement after the event stating it was “particularly difficult for the transgender members of our community” because of “the intolerant views of a handful of campus members.” About a hundred leftist students didn’t think this was good enough, and demanded he go further in denouncing the event by protesting outside the administration building.

Protesters Attack Pro-Life Conference

Protesters stormed into the Austin Marriott South, where the Texas Right to Life’s annual Boots on the Ground Conference was being held. Texas Right to Life is non-profit advocacy and educational organization that opposes abortion, and its annual conference educates pro-life Texans and college students about various aspects of the pro-life movement such as abortion, medical ethics, and how to build a diverse pro-life community..

Texas Right to Life held its Boots on the Ground Conference on the same weekend as the Rally for Life at the State Capitol. This year marked the 49th anniversary of the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade. The conference hosted numerous speakers who spoke about topics including abortion, human trafficing, and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Attendees were there to get trained in the Pro-Life movement and energized for the rally, but they would find that those on the other side of the abortion have been energized as well. 

Protestors entered the hotel lobby just before noon, shouting, “Working women, give them hell; it is right to rebel. We will defend abortion rights; working women, rise and fight!”

The dozen protesters carried a sign reading: “Working women lead the fight; safe abortions are our right!”

One woman lit a smoke bomb and threw it down the hallway towards the rooms holding the conference. Outside, a portion of hotel property was vandalized by the protesters as well. Luckily no one was injured on either side. Austin Police Department responded quickly to the protest, but there were no additional problems after the attack on Saturday, and no arrests have been made yet. 

This is not the first protest at a Texas Right to Life event. In 2017, communist protesters attempted to disrupt a Texas Right to Life event, but they did not physically attack attendees like they did on this occasion. 

The attack happened as thousands of Texans were marching in support of life at the State Capitol and in celebration of the victory that the Texas Heartbeat Act has been for the pro-life cause. Texas Right to Life spearheaded the effort to pass the Texas Heartbeat Act. 

The Texas Heartbeat Act has angered many abortion advocates. It bans abortions after a heartbeat is detected in the unborn child and thus prevents many abortions in Texas from legally occurring. Since it came into effect on Sept. 1, despite numerous failed attempts to have it struck down or enjoined, the Texas Heartbeat Act has saved an estimated 10,000-13,000 lives, according to Texas Right to Life. Already states like Alabama, Florida, Missouri, and Ohio are working to replicate the Texas Heartbeat Act. 

Footage taken by Texas Right to Life and used in this article with the organization’s permission.

BREAKING: Trinity University Postpones Spring Semester Until Jan. 31, 2022

While enjoying their winter break, Trinity University students received an email this morning notifying them of the new plan for returning to campus for the spring semester, which was scheduled to begin on Jan. 12, 2022. As of this morning at 11:16 am, Wed. Dec. 29, the spring semester will not begin until Jan. 31, 2022. 

In an email from Tess Coody-Anders, the Vice President for Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity University, students learned that the decision was made due to the “dramatic increase” of positive COVID-19 cases in the Trinity community. Throughout the winter break, students have been responsible for self-reporting any positive COVID-19 diagnoses or any close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Trinity’s Nerve Center has taken these numbers into consideration when making this decision in an attempt to keep students, faculty, and staff safe and healthy. 

One of the concerns of the university is how contagious the Omicron variant of COVID-19 seems to be. If the virus spreads quickly among students, faculty, and staff on-campus, the university is concerned that it will be overwhelmed and not able to properly accommodate individuals who must quarantine on-campus for their own safety or the safety of their families or roommates. 

When asked to comment, Coody-Anders said that the academic calendar for the Spring 2022 semester is being adjusted and that faculty will adjust their syllabi accordingly. Students’ spring break will not be changed, postponed, or canceled. The decision to start the semester should not interfere with athletic events or activities, and the university is doing all that it can to protect students, faculty, and staff from COVID-19.

Article updated 12/20/2021 to include comments from Tess Coody-Anders, VP for Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity University.

Texas Heartbeat Bill Is Here to Stay

In a victory for Pro-Life groups, the Supreme Court of the United States did not strike down Texas’ Heartbeat Act (SB 8) last week. The law limits abortions to before the first heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks. While the law allows for abortion in cases when the mother’s life is in danger, it bans nearly all abortions, since 85-90% of abortions in Texas happen after the sixth week of pregnancy.

13 other states have tried to pass similar laws, but all were struck down. The new Texas law is unique because instead of putting the enforcement mechanism in the hands of the state, it instead hands it to private citizens. Anyone can now sue abortition providers if they perform an aborition after a heartbeat is detected. The woman who elects abortion is never under the danger of a lawsuit, only the abortion provider, as the law states “this … may not be construed to authorize the initiation of a cause of action against or the prosecution of a woman on whom an abortion is performed.”

The vote in the Supreme Court was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent. The majority opinion was unsigned, and stated that an injunction would not be issued for the law due to the abortion providers who challenged the law not answering the “complex and novel antecedent procedural questions” the law raised. The majority states that their decision “is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law.”

Each dissenting justice filed his or her own opinion, either asking for a return to status quo ante (before the law went into effect) and to kick it back down to the lower courts to decide in the case of Roberts, or rejecting the majority’s view on the germaness of the unique procedural mechanism in the law. 

In Texas SB 8 has already caused a reaction from abortion providers. Three of the four major aborbition clinics in San Antonio have ceased providing aborbitions, and across the state others are following suit rather than risk lawsuits. 

The Court’s decision will likely lead other Republican-controlled states to try to pass similar laws, though the Biden Administration is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. President Biden called the law an “unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights,” and that the decision required an “immediate response.” The Justice Department launched a lawsuit against Texas on Thurs.,  in an attempt to try and strike down the law, but it remains to be seen how successful it will be after the Supreme Court’s first ruling. 

Young America’s Foundation Holds 43rd National Conservative Student Conference in Houston

Over 500 college students at the Marquis Marriott in Downtown Houston, TX enjoyed a week filled with a star-studded list of speakers and interaction with like-minded peers at the Young America’s Foundation’s (YAF) 43rd National Conservative Student Conference. The conference was held from Aug. 2 to Aug. 7, 2021.

The conference was held in Houston as opposed to its usual location in Washington, D.C., due to the mask mandate in the Nation’s capital. Houston was ideal because it served as a central location that allowed students from all over the country to attend.

The event began with Ben Shapiro, who gave his first in-person speech since the pandemic began, and then spanned a whole five days of speakers and socializing. The list of speakers included Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Chip Roy (TX-21), Rep. Byron Donalds (FL-19), Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Rep. Kevin Brady (TX-08), and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton among many others.  

Students were also able to listen to in-depth lectures on hot button issues from experts like James Lindsey on Critical Race Theory, Dr. Ryan Anderson on the Transgender Movement, Veronica Arnold Smither on Abortion, Declan Ganley on Crony Corporatism, and Dr. Burt Folsom on Free Markets and Race. 

Jules Accomazzo, a freshman at Grand Canyon University who attended the conference, thought that the conference was a positive experience. 

“My first YAF conference was very different than I imagined. It was more intense than I thought it would be, but overall it was a good experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone. My favorite part of YAF was “networking” with other students. I enjoyed connecting with people and making friends with like-minded views across the country!” 

On Tuesday night, more than a hundred students walked through Downtown Houston on a sightseeing tour of the many prominent monuments and buildings Downtown Houston has in store. 

Former Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker, now President of YAF, was a constant presence at the event, taking pictures with students, eating meals with them, and running a 5K on Friday morning with a small but determined group of students. 

José Quijada, an immigrant from Venezuela who now attends Lone Star College, also enjoyed his time at the conference. 

 “It was an amazing experience! Like nothing I have ever done before. People were professional and friendly, which made it super easy to make new friends. Seeing Ben Shapiro for the first time was great! But I will say being able to be with like-minded people for a week was AWESOME. Love[ed] the experience and will do it again.”

YAF’s next conference is September 24th at their headquarters in Reston, Virginia. Titled “Road to Freedom Seminar: Secrets to Advancing Free Markets Over Wokeness,” speakers will include Rachel Bovard, Andrew F. Puzder, and Governor Walker. 

Cover image used with permission of Young America’s Foundation.

Trinity University Reinstates Masks and Other COVID-19 Safety Procedures

Article updated on 8/5/2021 at 10:45pm CT. We included new information from an email sent to students earlier this morning.

Trinity University detailed its COVID-19 safety measures for the upcoming semester in an email sent to all students on July 30. While over 80% of students and faculty will be fully vaccinated by the beginning of the semester and had few COVID-19 cases during the spring semester in 2021, Trinity University decided to impose further restrictions on students, faculty, and staff. These new restrictions are due to the impact of the Delta variant and for Trinity “to promote a healthy and safe semester as we return to in-person learning and living.”

New restrictions include: 

  • the wearing of “well-fitting masks… by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings at all times” and the wearing of masks outside if one finds himself in a setting in which he is in a crowded space or cannot social distance
  • The testing of all students and staff regardless of vaccination status upon returning to campus
  • Weekly testing of all unvaccinated students and staff
  • A green badge from the ProtecTU Daily Health Check for all students, faculty, and staff for entry into public spaces or classrooms
  • Completion of the vaccination status form to be let onto campus and register for classes

Trinity stated in the email that it would re-evaluate these protocols come mid-September, but the university left the possibility of stricter protocols open. This may only be the beginning of stricter COVID-19 regulations due to the Delta variant.

Tess Coody-Anders, VP For Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity University, informed The Tower that the university currently stands at an 86% vaccination rate that continues to climb. However, these vaccinations do not entirely protect them from getting infected and carrying the “same viral load as unvaccinated persons.”

When asked about whose guidance they are following for these protocols and if they are imposing a mask mandate, Coody-Anders said that Trinity “will follow CDC guidance as we have throughout the pandemic and return to universal mask wearing for all” and that after a few weeks of testing unvaccinated individuals they will “re-evaluate the need for the vaccinated to wear masks.” Trinity University will also be checking statements and figures provided by the South Texas Regional Advisory Council to understand better how COVID-19 is affecting San Antonio.

Coody-Anders also informed The Tower that Trinity University is “fully committed to providing students in-person learning” but did not say whether or not the university is planning on potentially going partially or fully online again this semester.

However, Coody-Anders was unable to answer many, perhaps just as important, questions at this time. Of the questions asked, she did not provide answers to the following questions: 

  • If the university has expanded mental health services to accommodate students struggling due to the impact of COVID-19
  • If the university received feedback from students before finalizing the COVID-19 safety procedures
  • Whether students can have off-campus guests in their dorm rooms
  • Whether students can have guests who live in other residence halls in their dorm rooms (this was forbidden in Fall 2020 and for the beginning of Spring 2021)
  • Under what circumstances the university will remove the mask mandate
  • Whether students are able to report one another for not following these rules, as they did during the last school year
  • Why Trinity requires students to report their vaccine status if the vaccine is not required
  • What will happen to professors who do not enforce or check whether or not their students completed the Daily Health Check and got a green badge
  • What will happen to students if they are unable to display a green badge due to not having an electronic device on their person
  • Whether Trinity University believes these new rules are an infringement on the liberties of students, staff, and faculty?

Trinity University and Coody-Anders did try to make it clear that the administration at Trinity does care about its students and wants them to have as close to a normal semester as possible. However, the university has created many unanswered questions, and students are looking for answers that the university can not give at this time.

Update 8/5/2021: Trinity University sent a follow-up email to students on Aug. 5 to clarify some of the new COVID-19 procedures. The email stated that on-campus meetings will be limited to 50 persons for indoor settings and 250 for outdoor events. Off-campus guests and visitors will not be allowed on campus. Furthermore, residence hall dorm rooms will be restricted to 4 people maximum, and masks must be worn while guests are over. They reiterated that these rules will be reconsidered in mid-September.