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College Newspaper Editor Forced to Resign After Mask Op-Ed

October 1, 2021

After a 20-year-old college newspaper editor wrote an op-ed opposing the use of masks in the classroom, she was forced to resign from her role, gaining national attention from The Kansas City Star and other organizations that protested her ouster.

Maddison Farris, editor-in-chief of Oklahoma State University’s The O’Colly, wrote in an op-ed about an experience in class when a professor asked her to wear a mask. When she refused, he told her to leave the classroom. She’d done her "research," she wrote, and knew that "a mask could not be required of me within a school setting in the state of Oklahoma." So she decided to "take a stand." She made multiple phone calls to the Oklahoma governor’s office and reached out to Oklahoma State legal counsel but received no response. According to Oklahoma State’s website, the university "expects" the use of masks indoors in public spaces.

Farris wrote that her problem isn’t with wearing a mask, but with "control," and she urged Oklahoma State students to "wake up and realize they have a voice."

Since the op-ed appeared, The O’Colly has released a correction saying that Oklahoma State has guidelines for professors to decide whether or not to require masks during in-person instruction. When the university’s Health Services reports a positive COVID-19 case in a class, the professor is allowed to move class online or remain in person and require students to wear masks.

Along with the correction came major backlash on social media, Farris told the Star, with half of the staff at The O’Colly saying they’d strike until she resigned. She did so reluctantly, she said, after several staffers stopped working on the paper. Oklahoma State has no say in the matter, the Star reports, but "does seem to have sided against Farris, even denying that she was forced to resign."

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