As colleges and universities in Texas begin to reopen for the fall semester, protecting students from COVID-19 is no laughing matter.
But at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, where in-person graduation ceremonies and fall sports were canceled because of the pandemic, students were welcomed back this week with a comedy show.
The school hosted a free, in-person show Monday night with comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish, the Texas Tribune reported.
The event, which took place inside the school’s 6,000-seat Johnson Coliseum, was limited to 675 people., the Tribune said.
This wasn’t the only in-person even that was held during Sam Houston’s “Welcome Week,” the Tribune reported. There was array of activities such as an event called “speed friending” and Greek life gatherings at the school with around 21,000 students.
Not everyone is thrilled with the events, especially since the university canceled its in-person graduation back in May along with fall sports due to the pandemic. Even though face masks were required for the comedy event, people still voiced their objections on social media.
Yep – my son missed his in-person stage walk graduation in May – thanks for the slap in the face SHSU.
— Kellye Duncan (@kellye3160) August 19, 2020
Any comedian that agrees to hold shows like this also deserves criticism and derision, in my opinion. If you’re hosting shows that go against good sensible protocols to make a buck that needs to be called out as well. Two way street.
— Joe Ryan (@joesryan) August 19, 2020
Some students posted photos from the event on Facebook, along with a Facebook account called SHSU Student Activities that posted a photo of the apparent Welcome Week Leaders sitting apart from each other, waiting for the show to start.
A video was also posted, but according to the Tribune, the university could not confirm it was from the Haddish event.
Haddish, whose credits include “Girls Trip,” “Like A Boss” and “Night School,” recently shaved her head and also appeared Monday night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Huntsville, which sits on Interstate 45 in between Dallas and Houston, has 3,197 confirmed coronavirus cases and 44 deaths as of Aug. 19. It is also the home of the Wynne Unit, which had the most reported COVID-19 deaths in all of Texas prisons in June, the Tribune reported.
‘A formidable foe’
Some universities that have opened their campuses are already shutting down because of the pandemic. On Tuesday, the University of Notre Dame announced it was moving all undergraduate instruction online for two weeks and Michigan State University is going fully online for the semester, NPR reported.
“The virus is a formidable foe,” Rev. John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame said, according to NPR. “For the past week, it has been winning. Let us as the Fighting Irish join together to contain it.”
Other universities are using methods to help their students remain coronavirus-free while on campus. Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa had their undergrad students sign a “Drake Together Compact” which was a promise to the university that the students will maintain social distancing guidelines or face consequences.
At Sam Houston, the school will use a “blended courses” approach that requires ”more than half (but not all) of the instruction is done from a social distance,” according to its website. One example of a blended course is one in which “the first 3 weeks of a course are taught face-to-face while the remainder is taught online, with exams proctored face-to-face in a large room every other week.”