NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A group of Belmont University students are protesting COVID protocols at Belmont University. They met at the corner of Wedgewood Ave. and Magnolia Blvd. Wednesday morning.
According to organizers, their main concerns are mask enforcement and temporary housing for students diagnosed with the coronavirus.
“Our protest is called ‘vax up mask up,’ with the goal to get the Belmont administration to enact COVID housing once again,” organizer Natalie Schilling said. “They revoked that this year and to also encourage better enforcement of the mask mandate.”
Several students spoke about fear of catching the virus due to the relaxed atmosphere they feel on campus. They told News 2 they have reached out to school officials and believe they are not being aggressive enough in combatting the virus.
News 2 reached out to the university for comment on the protest and they returned the following statement:
The health and safety of Belmont students, faculty and staff is always a priority and at the forefront of our minds as we try to provide students with an in-person living and learning experience this term. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, our COVID-19 task force, appointed by and in regular contact with the president, is constantly monitoring conditions and case counts on Belmont’s campus and in Nashville. This team is also in frequent communication with local and state health officials and uses these inputs to evaluate protocols on a regular basis.
All individuals on Belmont’s campus are required to wear masks when indoors, a policy that’s been in place—and broadly and frequently communicated—since August 10. In addition, all employees have been told that they are empowered to enforce this mandate at any time, and any student or employee who refuses to comply would be considered in violation of the campus’ code of conduct.
Given that the vaccine was widely available, Belmont made it a priority in early spring to make in person living and learning happen, and all Belmont housing was reserved by current students at that time for the fall semester. This summer we made it clear to every student and their family that they should prepare for an off-campus quarantine plan should the need arise. In addition, we worked with a nearby partner to secure transitional and emergency housing for students who are unable to access any other option for their isolation or quarantine. That housing has been made available for any student without another option.
Students told News 2 they will continue to advocate for safety protocols and encourage their fellow students to join them.