UT students share opinions toward UT’s full capacity policy at football games

Sofia Treviño, Life and Arts Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the September 17 flipbook.

A swarm of burnt orange and white rushed Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium as 91,113 Longhorn fans filed in. Soaking in the cheers, music and screams of the Sept. 4 game against Louisiana, Faye Haynes finally felt the Longhorn school spirit.

Yet, with the temperature reaching an unbearable 100 degrees, Haynes couldn’t help but strip off her face mask.

“(There was) insane school spirit,” public relations sophomore Haynes said. “The stadium is way bigger than I could have imagined (and) seeing familiar faces was nice. …When it’s not insanely hot, I’m definitely going to wear my mask.”

Though Austin remains in Stage 5, UT’s policy toward football games allows for full stadium capacity and voluntary masking. As of Sept. 16, 62% of Austin is fully vaccinated. With Longhorn football back in action, some students attend in hopes of normalcy while those concerned about COVID-19 skip the events.

Haynes said she made sure to take precautions against COVID-19 to stay safe, such as participating in weekly Proactive Community Testing testing and wearing a mask around other students.

Similarly, Ruben Garzoria, a public affairs graduate  student, said he feels comfortable going to the games because of his  vaccination status.

“I’ve been masking and sanitizing. I got vaccinated and I’m about to get a booster shot,” Gazoria said. “If it ever came to a point where I felt not safe, I wouldn’t go to the football games, but when I look at it, I’ve done what I had to do and I think it’s time for me to start   getting back to normal.”

Garzoria explained that football games feel like an escape for him and many other students, especially after spending so much time  isolated and indoors.

“Make memories because you never know when something like COVID will ever happen,” Garzoria said.

Meanwhile, some students still don’t feel comfortable attending games. Alex Hernandez, a computer science sophomore, said even with his vaccination status, the risk outweighs his interest in having a “normal” college experience. Joining organizations around campus helped him still feel the support of  the UT community.

“I wanted to go (to the game), but it’s scary,” Hernandez said. “Knowing this is a stadium with 100,000 people. … So many people being close together and most of them not wearing masks, it’s a rough situation to be in.”

Paul Han, an electrical and computer engineering sophomore, said the full capacity games frustrate him. He said UT’s stance against COVID-19 seems hypocritical, and not protective of immunocompromised students and staff.

“Telling us to be COVID safe, and then having full capacity football games, defeats the purpose,” Han said. “It shows the message behind UT is very performative.”

Han said he feels uncomfortable not knowing which of his classmates take precautions, an issue that would only be amplified at  a football game.

“If you don’t sacrifice yourself for people around you, what’s the point of being here?” Han said. “A society needs to take care of each other, but we refuse to.”