Students voice concerns after LU administration signs papers with no mask on social media


President Porter signs papers with no mask at Saint Charles Community College on Oct. 22, 2020.

Alexis Montgomery, Editor-in-Chief

Some students are angered over a Lindenwood University video on social media that shows President John Porter signing papers without a mask at Saint Charles Community College on Thursday. 

President Porter signed an agreement with the community college to support transfer processes between institutions. In the video on social media, there are five people not wearing masks. The comments were turned off on the university’s Instagram post, but the Facebook post still allowed comments.

Lindenwood officials have not yet responded to repeated requests for comment about the criticism.

Students commented on the Facebook post that it was “hypocritical to not adhere to the same policies as students.” Some commenters noted that the video appeared two weeks after Lindenwood had announced spring graduation ceremonies were being canceled. 

“Bring graduation back. You not wearing masks in this photo is hypocritical,” one comment under the post said. “We can easily do a safe graduation. Practice what you preach.” 

Daniel Kennebeck, a former Lindenwood Student Government president, has even created a petition to host a graduation ceremony. 469 people have signed the petition so far. 

Sydney Schader, a sophomore at Lindenwood, also expressed frustration with the social media post. Schader said it’s unfair for students to be held to the standard of wearing a mask, yet the university leadership is meeting leaders from other colleges and not holding themselves to the same standards.

“As the semester continues, I worry about individuals relaxing on the rules and not following them when they see our own president not wearing a mask in a PR video,” Shader said in an email. “St. Charles Community College posted similar content and allowed comments on the post, and claimed they all wore masks and socially distanced, but took masks off prior to pictures.”

Shader also said that due to the university turning comments off of the Instagram post, students were not able to voice how they felt about the video.

“Lindenwood University took away commencement ceremonies, lengthened the time away from the campus we love over winter break and took away our spring break, as well as many campus traditions that we know and love for the purpose of protecting our health and safety, yet they can’t show that they are sacrificing anything (some good PR photos) for our safety,” Shader said.

Shader said she will continue to wear a mask and follow the university COVID-19 guidelines, but hopes that Lindenwood can “practice what they preach.”

Elaina Holstein, a senior at Lindenwood, turned to Facebook to voice her concerns on the video. The Facebook post has been shared 58 times. Holstein gave Lindelink permission to use quotes from the post. 

“You canceled graduation for all 2020 grads,” the post read. “In a dry email you went from telling us we were your top priority- to saying that you have no plans to reschedule graduation or invite us back for a future one.

“All we ask is that YOU practice what you preach…I am not sure how you thought this was a good idea.” 

Holstein said she was inspired to voice her opinion on Facebook after graduation was canceled and the Lindenwood Instagram page turned the comments off on the video post.

“When I saw the video of our president without a mask, I was enraged,” Holstein said in an Instagram message. “To see him without a mask after getting daily emails to wear mine, and just days after they canceled our graduation, I wanted to say something.” 

Holstein said it’s frustrating to see bigger schools like Missouri State University still able to have a socially distanced graduation after Lindenwood canceled theirs. 

“If they truly valued us seniors, they would do what they can to give us the recognition we deserve,” Holstein said.

Holstein also said that it was frustrating to see the video because the signing was something that could’ve been completed virtually. 

“There was no need for this press conference or possible exposure,” Holstein said. “The fact that not a single one is wearing masks is what is most upsetting. 

“To be frank, they are the most at risk given their age. As students, we are doing everything to comply to their rules so that we can stay on campus. All I ask is that they do the same.”

Holstein said the feedback she has received from her post has been positive so far. Parents and students have reached out to her in support, as well as some faculty members. 

“I have had a few faculty and staff reach out to me privately to voice their support that they cannot do publicly due to their position with the school,” Holstein said.

Holstein said despite the video, she still loves Lindenwood.

“I love Lindenwood. And I had the best four years here,” Holstein said. “It is so upsetting that we had to end it in a global pandemic, and so upsetting that our university is treating the seniors this way. 

“I would like to have a meeting with the president to ask why he thinks he does not need to follow his own rules. I’m completely disappointed.”

President Porter is not the only university president to be criticized for not wearing a mask at an event. The Notre Dame university president has recently come under fire for not wearing a mask and social distancing at a White House event.