As in-person classes begin, the COVID-19 task force is working to ensure that the Quinnipiac community stays safe.
Undergraduate and graduate student leaders came together to form a campaign, known as ‘Protect the Bobcat Bubble’, to ensure student’s safety on campus.
“What we’re trying to do is tackle all the problems that we might run into before they happen.” Maria Mastropaolo, a peer advocate from Quinnipiac’s School of Health and Sciences and a member of the COVID-19 task force said, “We really want to get the word out there that right now, being socially distant and wearing your mask when appropriate, is super important,”
The task force recently sent an email to students on Wednesday, September 9, about the latest action they decided to take. As an extra precautionary measure, they have decided to remove all the extra chairs in the cafeteria where students are not allowed to sit.
Additionally, the student leaders and peer health ambassadors have asked the students to limit their trips to places outside the bobcat community on weekends. These decisions came after much deliberation and observation by the student leaders.
When asked how these decisions were taken, Nicole Mawhirter, a graduate student from the class of 2022 and another member of the COVID-19 task force said, “That was brought to us by the student government association.”
Multiple members of the bobcat community witnessed the non-compliance and felt it was necessary to take action to ensure every campus safety.
“I know that some administration members, faculty, and both, peer ambassadors and student government leaders were seeing a lot of non-compliance with the stickers that were put into place. They made a collective decision to remove those chairs for the safety of the students,” Mawhirter said.
However, the student leaders and peer ambassadors do not want to condemn or penalize any student for their actions.
“We don’t want to be the cops. We don’t want to get people in trouble,” Mastropaolo mentioned. “We just want people’s experiences to be as positive as possible, even with these restrictions placed on us.”
While the task force is trusting the students to do the right thing, they’ve also planned ahead to ensure that there is a 100% compliance from the students.
“We have some plans to have tabling events, basically, ways to promote everything without reprimanding people who haven’t been following the guidelines,” Mastropaolo said.
Despite the negativity surrounding the pandemic, the COVID-19 task force is working together with student leaders to make this semester as normal as possible and help the bobcat community get through these tough times.
“It’s a big change for people, and a lot of people are feeling a little apprehensive towards all the new changes. So, we want to make sure it’s a positive adjustment for everyone,” Mawhirter said.
According to the University Medical Director, Dr. David Wang, students can keep themselves and others safe by wearing their masks and maintaining six-feet distance from others when they’re outdoors. However, there are still other issues that need to be addressed.
“Where it gets difficult, is that you’re trying to create a campus-wide philosophy. If you continually walk by people who are not following the policy, we would lose the momentum in terms of establishing campus-wide behaviors. So we always have to play reality from perception,” Dr. Wang said
Although it’s justifiable for roommates to sit together in public spaces, Dr. Wang advises against it. Such behavior sends the wrong message to other students who are unaware of the situation.
“We’re dealing with these really difficult issue[s] about perception, consistency, not having mixed messages and right now, we get a lot of mixed messages,” Dr. Wang said. “It’s really hard to have consistent behavior when you’re getting inconsistent messages.”
Students must follow the CDC guidelines outside their dorms to ensure that there is no deviation from the campus-wide policies.
While it may be odd to remain six-feet away when talking with friends, Dr. Wang says that it’s just a matter of remembering from time to time that a pandemic is still happening.
“If this is gonna succeed, it’s not because of us and our rules, it’s because of the students and their behaviors,” Dr. Wang concluded.
As the semester continues, the COVID-19 task force seems to have a request for the students at Quinnipiac university.
“If they have to venture off-campus, we just want to remind them to keep safe and be mindful of other neighbors of our communities since this is their home too,” Mawhirter said.
Every student is responsible for the safety of Quinnipiac University’s community. Students need to work together and be mindful to keep themselves and the bobcat community safe until they can leave for Thanksgiving.