A student in my undergraduate class has tweeted her displeasure (or so I’m told) at my having noted the abundant scientific evidence that masks do not prevent transmission of flu-like respiratory viruses.
My department chair just called to ask if that is true—it is, as I readily told him—and to let me know that NYU’s COVID response team, or whatever it’s called, will shortly be emailing all my students to reaffirm the policy (which, I told them explicitly, I don’t advise them to ignore).
I do believe they should be thinking for themselves, and studying the evidence for any claim or mandate, instead of merely bowing to authority. That’s my intellectual and civic obligation, as a teacher, whatever NYU’s official policy, or New York State’s. It’s one thing to expect the students to obey their institution’s rules, but quite another thing to urge them not to think about it.
We’ll be discussing this whole contretemps in class, as it perfectly exemplifies the power of propaganda, and the lengths to which the powers that be will go to safeguard its narratives from any contradiction.