students adjust to mask use on campus


Jessica Guerrucci Editor-in-Chief

One of many major visible changes on campus this fall is the use of masks, and for exploratory major Natanael Barbosa Torres, a sophomore, he said he wears his mask because he does not want to get himself or others sick. 

“It’s a respect thing,” said Barbosa Torres. “It’s common courtesy. It’s not going to kill you to not wear a mask.” 

To promote mask use on campus, Southern has put public awareness signage throughout the campus with the statement “My Mask Protects You. Your Mask Protects Me.” 

Masks are to be worn on campus, indoors and outdoors, and according to an email from President Joe Bertolino, and if a mask is forgotten, one can be found at the Buley circulation desk, Adanti Student Center information desk and Wintergreen information desk. 

“If you see someone without a mask,” the email read, “offer them a gentle reminder and send them to the nearest PPE station.” 

While the outside world occasionally politicizes the use of masks, Barbosa Torres said it should not be an issue.

“There’s no debate,” he said. “You should definitely wear your mask. Like where’s the argument?” Biology major Zakia Abbe, a junior, also said masks and politics should not be grouped together.  

“It’s not political,” said Abbe. “Health and politics should be separate.” 

Business major Cullan Contos, a graduate student, said he thinks students should not be on campus this semester because COVID-19 cases will arise, and college parties are inevitable. 

Going beyond a mask mandate in the state, Contos said there should also be a federal mandate regarding mask usage. 

“The reason this virus has taken such a hold on our country, and such a hold on everything we’re doing right now, is because of the lack of leadership at the top,” he said, referring to President Donald Trump. 

Communication major Taryn Bellinger, a freshman, said she has no issue with wearing a mask because she thinks they work in terms of preventing spread of the virus. 

When other people choose not to wear a mask, she said it is putting other faculty and students at risk. However, she thinks Southern is doing a good job. 

“I think it’s done pretty well so far,” she said. “I think most students and adults are wearing them.” 

Despite complying with the campus mask rules, political science major Diamond Jackson, a junior, said it is annoying to have on all day because it is hot. 

When there is no social distancing, Jackson said wearing a mask does not make sense to her as well as some campus policies. 

“Commuters can’t come to residence halls,” she said. “That makes no sense. But they can have classes with them? Either way you’re close to them.” 

Healthcare studies major Stiven Jean, a junior, said he sees the importance in wearing a mask, but it is “in the way.” 

“You really can’t hear what people are saying,” said Jean. “Like since I’ve been on campus, I’ve been having to ask again what people are saying.”

When on-campus, Jean said the mask rule could be enforced a bit more and the situation on campus does not feel like it has changed that much for him.  

What it comes down to for business management major Alex Ward, a sophomore, and exploratory major Ryan Soules, a sophomore, is that despite the inconvenience, a mask is necessary.

“It sucks,” said Ward, “but if it’s protecting us then I’ll suck it up and do it.”

Photo credit: Jessica Gerrucci

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