When Texas State announced some classes would be conducted in-person during its summer II session, we, and other students alike, hoped the university’s primary goal would be to keep us informed on everything pertaining to COVID-19.
Amid the worst health crisis of our lifetimes, we wanted the opportunity to make informed decisions about what to do moving forward. Our hope for consistent transparency from Texas State, however, has not come to fruition.
Last week, after hearing concerns throughout the university community about employees testing positive for COVID-19, specifically in the J.C. Kellam Administration Building, we reached out to officials to confirm any validity behind what was said.
Shortly after, we received confirmation that Texas State “received notification of positive cases from Texas State faculty, staff and students, including reports from some individuals in JCK.”
The email further stated the university would release a broader announcement on COVID-19 exposure “if there is an ongoing threat to the health and safety of the community.” What university officials fail to realize, however, is COVID-19 is an ongoing threat to the health and safety of the community—no ifs, ands or buts about it.
As students, our issue is that it took The Star inquiring about COVID-19 cases for the administration to be transparent. The university spent so much time mapping out our return to campus but failed to meet our biggest expectation—thorough communication regarding this highly infectious and deadly disease spreading throughout our community.
Student Health Center Director Emilio Carranco and Texas State administrators seem to be the only people who know what is going on. It seems as if the health center collects the data, gives it to the administration, and after that, it is anyone’s guess as to what happens.
In its statement, Texas State claims none of the cases were acquired on any of its campuses. There is no possible way to ensure this is certain. But in the event the university did somehow figure it out, they were not transparent with the information—and that is a problem.
The Star had a chance to speak with President Denise Trauth about the Roadmap to Return, an action plan created to navigate campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Preparing for the interview, we went to our social media platforms and gathered questions, comments and concerns from our audience. In 24 hours, we received over 100 comments from people both curious and angry, making it clear the demand for transparency is important now more than ever.
In our conversation with Trauth, she said the safety of students is always first. She says one thing, but the actions of the university tell a completely different story. On the rare occasion we do get some form of transparency, the statements say absolutely nothing and give no valuable information. That needs to change.
Trauth also said the university’s decision to return to campus is “based on science.” Well, the science that influences decisions needs to be made publicly available. This isn’t hard.
When Texas State fails to be transparent about these developments, it looks suspicious—as if it is trying not to give the community reason to further condemn a decision to return to campus amid this global pandemic.
Skepticism about the university’s decision to return is already high among many in the university community. Texas State’s reluctance to reveal COVID-19 and other pertinent information is not helping at all.
Major businesses in San Marcos have been vocal about COVID-19 in their establishments by releasing statements on their social media platforms about positive cases and closures. There is nothing stopping Texas State from holding itself accountable and alerting its community about what is going on behind closed doors.
Hays County reports every day; Texas State should too. The university is responsible for about 40,000 students. The community deserves—at the very least—daily updates on COVID-19 cases.
Texas State is an institution that thousands of students look to for guidance and support, especially during a time like we are living in now. For the sake of us all, do your job. Do not make us do it for you.