NEW ORLEANS (November 15, 2021) – After nearly two years, Dillard students are elated about being able to return to as fans to support our athletes, starting Oct. 8 with the beginning of volleyball season.
It appears that we are better at being consistent than some other schools, perhaps because we are smaller.
Mass gatherings nationwide came to a grinding halt in March 2019 because of mounting COVID-19 cases, negatively affecting college students’ social lives. The ideal college experience was adapted to accommodate COVID restrictions, leaving students with virtual events, including sports.
Sporting event are a foundation of school spirit. It is vital on HBCU campuses because it builds a sense of connectedness, but virtual sporting events left much to be desired.
Dillard University, among other HBCUs, has realized the importance of traditional game days.
Dr. Kiki Baker Barners, athletic director, expressed the important role city guidelines and mandates played in the return of fans, with the No. 1 concern being safety. Barnes said the protocols include proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test 72 hours prior to the event and a mask.
Barnes said security had extra assistance to enforce the protocols prior to fans entering Dent.
In contrast, I saw firsthand how similar protocols didn’t work when my family and I attended the Southern University vs. Miles College football game Sept. 11 in Baton Rouge. Proof of vaccination was required to purchase a ticket online, but not when you bought one on campus, which was where we purchased ours. Masks were enforced upon entry but disregarded once people were in the the stadium.
LSU, which is three times as big as Southern, simply gave up when it came to COVID protocols and sporting events. LSU announced in August that it would require COVID tests or vaccine documentation and then lifted the requirements effective Oct. 16 after considerable brouhaha about the time it took to get in and whether everyone was treated equally.
Such inconsistency is dangerous but thankfully, easily avoidable for Dillard with its smaller population.