Nearly 40 percent of ACU students believe the university should not mandate face coverings on campus, a new survey shows.
The survey was conducted by the Optimist and distributed in conjunction with the Student Government Association. The survey, which had nearly 900 respondents, was conducted via social media from June 29 to July 5.
Despite the continuous spread of COVID-19 across Texas and the nation, 81 percent of students want classes to return in-person for the fall semester.
Phil Schubert, president of the university, was encouraged by the high turnout of participation in the survey and wasn’t surprised by any of the results.
“This shows all of us how interested and engaged our students are as we make decisions for the fall,” Schubert said. “The survey mirrored what we’ve been hearing from students. It’s clear they want to be on campus this fall, and they are eager to be together in community with their friends and their instructors.”
Looking outside the classroom, 60 percent of students want extracurricular actives on-campus in the fall semester, while 17 percent were against the idea and 22 percent undecided.
Schubert was cautiously optimistic about student activities, but realized that the health and safety of students is the top priority.
“We will have to lean heavily on guidance coming from local and state health officials, as well as the governor’s office,” Schubert said. “We certainly hope we can move forward with intramurals and other student activities. I think we all want that, but we have to do so safely.”
Nearly 72% of students are also in favor of sports returning on-campus in the fall semester. Meanwhile, 60 percent want fans in attendance. A decision on fall sports will be delegated by the Southland Conference.
While a majority of students want to return for in-person classes, 1 in 4 students want large group chapel to remain canceled for the Spring 2021 semester. Additionally, only 11 percent believe the Bean and other dining services should be closed.
There was a large gap between racial groups on returning to campus with caucasians most favorable of reopening and African Americans least favorable.
While all African American respondents favored the university mandating masks, only 54 percent of caucasians felt the same. Only 54 percent of African Americans want to return for in-person classes. Meanwhile 85 percent of caucasians favored a return.
In total, 87 percent of students approve of the university’s handling of COVID-19.
“We wanted to make sure all students got an opportunity to have their voice heard, and it looks like a large number of them did,” Schubert said. “We hope our students will give us some grace as we continue to move through these uncharted waters. We’ve done extensive planning, and I’m glad to see the students recognize that, and they support the path we’re on to open campus this fall.”
The survey also discovered a correlation with favorability of returning to campus and a respondents’ classification and/or position.
Incoming freshmen are most favorable of reopening campus and extracurricular activities, and the favorability continues to drop the higher the classification. Meanwhile faculty and/or staff members were least favorable of reopening campus.
The Senior Leadership Team hopes to unveil new protocols and announcements for returning Aug. 1. Until then, Schubert encourages everyone to take precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“In the meantime, we encourage all of our students to do what’s necessary to stay well,” Schubert said. “Practice social distancing, wear face masks, use good hygiene and stay home as much as possible. All of this will contribute to a more successful semester for our campus. We have missed them, and we look forward to their safe return.”