A new policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology barring anyone from requesting that someone else wear a mask has stirred criticism online.
MIT’s new policy, which took effect Monday, makes masks optional for most indoor areas on campus. Coronavirus tests are now also optional, and anyone arriving on campus no longer has to attest to not having coronavirus symptoms.
The policy doesn’t allow any department, lab or center from setting its own policies on campus and specifically says that people may not request or require others to wear masks.
Those aspects came under fire on Wednesday after Kate Darling, a researcher at the MIT Media Lab, tweeted that a research group discussed whether to keep wearing masks indoors so people felt safe. Darling, who has more than 34,000 followers on Twitter, had nearly 24,000 likes on her post within 24 hours and nearly 5,300 retweets.
MIT said in a statement to the Business Journal that anyone can continue to wear a mask if they want to do so.
"Indeed, we ask that everyone be considerate of that individual’s choice," the school said. "It is also the case that it must be an individual, personal decision. In line with state and local guidance, MIT no longer requires individuals to wear a face covering on campus, and so our leaders do not think it is appropriate for any individual or unit to compel other members of the community to do so in order to participate in their MIT activities."