UT-Austin student petition calls for mandatory COVID-19 testing

Athena Hawkins

A petition calling for UT to implement weekly, mandatory COVID-19 testing for all students has received 323 signatures as of Sunday, a week after its creation. 

Journalism freshman Miguel Anderson published the online petition after over 15,000 fans attended the University’s first football game of the season. The petition cites game days as a concern for potentially exposing students to COVID-19, and asks the University to replace its current voluntary testing policy with a mandatory program.

“It's important that The University of Texas at Austin ensures the safety of students on campus,” Anderson said in the petition. “One way of doing this is to make coronavirus testing mandatory to all students, and routinely, at least once a week.”

Anderson said he created the petition on change.org and gathered support by sharing it with students via apps, such as Twitter and GroupMe. 

 



University spokesperson J.B. Bird said in an email that the University plans to continue with voluntary proactive testing.  

“We value the input of students and will listen to and review their suggestions,” Bird said. “ We encourage all students to sign up for these tests to protect themselves, their friends and the community. There are no current plans to make testing mandatory, but we support the importance this petition places on testing.”

In addition to the start of football season, Anderson said his family’s concern about living in an on-campus dorm also motivated him to create the petition.

“With testing being voluntary, that puts a lot of people at risk on a campus where we have multiple communities converging,” Anderson said. “We have West Campus people, then there’s the staff and faculty, and right now we have games going on, so it’s all mixing.”

Student support for the petition has not been limited to those on campus. Public relations freshman Munji Nfor said she signed the petition to support the students and staff living on campus, although she is not.

“I didn’t want to be someone who sits on the sidelines for something this important,” Nfor said. “I knew that if I could at least take some part in helping with the COVID policies, and strengthening the policies we do have, then I would definitely do so.”