Students react to UT’s full capacity announcement

Kaushiki Roy, News Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the June 14 flipbook.

UT announced plans to reopen at full capacity indoors beginning August 16 in an internal communications email students received June 11.

In the email, University administration said outdoor capacity would reach 100% starting June 11, and the University would increase indoor capacity for activities including classes and labs over the next two months.The email also announced a new form of COVID-19 rapid testing which will be offered in the fall alongside vaccination efforts.

According to the email from Cindy Posey, director of internal communications, the University cannot require students to be vaccinated or mandate that students wear masks by Texas law.

This has caused some students to be concerned about campus reopening in the fall. Steven Ding, president of UT Senate of College Councils, said he has mixed feelings about reopening.

“On one hand, it’s like the whole world is going back to normal, which is crazy,” said Ding, a management information systems and urban studies senior. “But I get the feeling that for university, lots of students will be coming from everywhere and will be COVID conscious.”

As the University moves to open back up, Ding said he is concerned that fully online classes will decrease in availability and flexibility.

“There’s not a lot of online options anymore and I think that might hurt some people who want to stay home because of COVID,” Ding said.

Psychology sophomore Jahnavi Mehta said she is excited for in-person interactions and believes they are important to her college experience.

“Last year I did not get to experience college and I was very disappointed,” Mehta said. “I was unable to make any new friends that weren’t living with me or that I didn’t meet through a certain online group.”

Mehta said while she is excited, she also believes that the University should reopen more slowly.

“I just wish it was done in a more step-by-step process as opposed to just letting everyone do everything at once, especially since there’s no way to verify people have the vaccine at all times and at every place,” Mehta said.

Ding said he is planning to keep a hybrid approach for the senate meetings in order to accommodate those who may feel unsafe.

Ding said since the classes of 2024 and 2025 will both be on campus for the first time, having full capacity on campus could be chaotic.

“It’s almost like we have two freshmen classes,” Ding said. “I think it’ll be hard for everyone to orient themselves and worry about COVID at the same time and if we had more online options it would definitely be easier on the classes.”

However, computer science sophomore Adithya Arunganesh said he does not mind campus reopening quickly.

“I think it’s okay that the campus reopens, given that more students get vaccinated,” Arunganesh said. “Plus, if the University is offering testing and people are responsible about it, there shouldn’t be many issues.”

Regardless of concerns, students like Mehta say they are excited to be on campus in a safer environment.

“When I go to UT, I am really excited to properly meet all the girls in my current sorority and to start making friends,” Mehta said. “I want to say I’ll be cautious about COVID since I’ll wear a mask, but I will also go to parties when I can.”