Opinion

OPEN LETTER: Student Leaders from Texas Universities Urge Compliance for COVID-19 Safety Protocols

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By: College Health Alliance of Texas

Calling all Texas students: Let’s take charge

Every generation has its defining moments; the COVID-19 pandemic is one of ours.

Texas is currently ranked No. 3 in pandemic stats, with more than 550,000 cases and over 10,000 deaths. Data shows that young adults have prematurely moved away from masks, social distancing and other safety best practices. As a result, an increasing percentage of COVID-19 cases are found in 20- to 29-year-olds. As summer days wind down and most universities re-open their doors, each of us must recognize this trend can dramatically worsen if students, faculty, administrators and government officials are unable to join together in support of effective protocols to protect our campuses.

We, the student body leaders of major Texas universities, commit to all necessary safety practices. We’re asking every fellow student to join us.

With the COVID-19 virus still prevalent and no vaccine available, a successful and sustainable reopening of our schools completely depends on our generation doing its part. Collaborative leadership is critical as our state continues to battle the virus.

We control the continuity of our education. Our actions will ultimately dictate how this semester will look.

That’s why we are launching CHAT: the College Health Alliance of Texas. Our goal is to strategically engage our generation to work together in minimizing the spread of the virus, provide collaborative leadership and help Texas defeat this virus.

We’re a group of 35 Texas student leaders determined to adopt a winning strategy and committed to transforming the future of our generation.

Visit https://collegehealthallianceoftexas.com to read our open source COVID-19 student resource guide. It’s a playbook with safety best practices and will be updated regularly.

We will be conducting a statewide student survey to better understand students thoughts and concerns around COVID-19. This survey will help us facilitate collaboration with university health and administrative officials by evaluating the campus environment, community resources, public health capacity, and risk tolerance.

We know students are eager to return back to school, and we need to prepare for the unfamiliar territory inherent in adjusting to campus life in a pandemic. We must practice humility and compassion when approaching our peers, faculty and staff as we all adjust to new practices for social interaction.

We can take control of our future. There’s too much to lose if we don’t.

Texas defeats this virus one way: Together. Students can lead the charge, so let’s get to it.

Signed,

• Austin Hickle, Southern Methodist University, student body vice president

• Molly Patrick, Southern Methodist University, student body president

• Cedrick Mattli, Texas A&M University, vice president of legislative affairs

• Nikola Skerl, University of Texas at Austin, state relations agency director

• Hunter Heck, Texas Tech University, student body president

• Ryan Chandler, Texas Christian University, student body president

• Miles Murphy, Dallas Baptist University, student body president

• Sutton Houser, Baylor University, student body president

• Jessica Martinez, University of Texas at El Paso, student body president

• Anna Margaret Clyburn, Rice University, student body president

• Jasmine Khadenakbari, University of Houston, student body president

• Daniel Sherman, Abilene Christian University, student body president

• Amy Brock, Abilene Christian University, student body vice president

• Jaelen Harris, Trinity University, student body president

• Alan Modrow, University of Houston-Downtown, student body president

• Seth Rodriguez, West Texas A&M University, student body president

• Michael Luecke, University of North Texas, student body president

• Ayanna Watkins, Paul Quinn College, student body president

• Faisal Al-Hummod, Texas Tech University, student body vice president of external affairs

• Tessa Schreiber, Rice University, government relations

• Austin T. Stephens, University of Texas at El Paso, student body vice president

• Oliver Chapin-Eiserloh, Trinity University, student body vice president

The purpose of this coalition is to serve as the voice of our generation to stop the spread of COVID-19. Our goal is to effectively communicate the importance of public health guidelines, to actively engage students to do our part, and to facilitate collaboration with health, administrative, and elected officials.

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