Profs at UT to Bribe Students Not To Kill Them

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Profs at UT to Bribe Students Not To Kill Them; University of Texas Suggests Novel Health Strategy

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UT Austin Administration Suggests To Bribe Students To Wear A Mask

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 26, 2021) - At one major university [UT Austin] where faculty will be risking their lives when in-person classes begin - because the school has no requirement for vaccinations, mask wearing, or even regular COVID testing - the administration suggests that professors offer bribes from their own pockets to help persuade students to at least wear masks in class.

But since the bribes are limited to $50, they are not likely to be very effective, argues public interest law professor John Banzhaf, noting that the school's suggestion of offering cookies or donuts demonstrates the ludicrous as well as dangerous position both faculty and students find themselves in as they prepare for a fall term during which COVID cases keep rising.

The activist law professor suggests that a more effective alternative would be to "Sue The Bastards" by bringing legal actions under the Americans With Disabilities Act [ADA], the Occupational Safety and Health Act [OSHA], and/or applicable anti- discrimination laws; tactics which he has used successfully in many situations. Some at other institutions of higher education are already doing this.

Banzhaf reports that professors at UT are interpreting new university guidance as suggesting that they are individually responsible - financially and otherwise - for the safety conditions in their own classrooms.

For example, one UT professor wrote: "“So apparently we can bribe our students?!! Amazing that this is real - I can’t require students to wear masks but I am allowed to give them $50 gift cards, with my own money, as a reward if they do.”

The Policy Of Offering Cookies And Donuts

Another complained that students will find the policy of offering cookies and donuts “absurd and juvenile. . . . I think many of us find the idea of offering our classes a cookie or doughnut for wearing a mask seems a bit too much like second-grade classroom-management tactics.”

The suggestion for offering a cookie or doughnut to help protect the teacher - as well as older family or young children in the home - from hospitalization, long COVID, or even death - is neither hyperbole nor hypothetical, says Banzhaf, citing the following suggestion from the university:

"The instructor offers that everyone who wears a mask for two weeks of their class can stop by the courtyard to pick up a gift certificate for a free item from a nearby bakery."

But for a class of 100 during a typical 15-week fall term, the cost of such "stay alive" bribes could cost a professor teaching only two classes over $1000 - and twice that for the entire academic year, notes Banzhaf.

Moreover, he suggests, the risk of becoming infected with this deadly diseases is much greater on campuses because college is a more contagious environment than most because so many students live, play, and learn very closely together.

Indeed, a recent study showed that coronavirus’s reproduction rate - the average number of people an infected person infects - is twice as high on a typical residential college campus as it is among the general public,.

On top of that, the Delta variant’s reproduction rate is already higher than the same number for previous versions of the coronavirus, he notes.

So "Let Them Eat Cake" and pay for it may be the only way UT professors can protect themselves and other family members from infection with a deadly disease, argues Banzhaf.