OSU launches campaign to Mask Up around campus
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
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With COVID-19 cases spiking around the nation because of the highly infectious Delta variant, it has become more important to wear a protective mask than ever.
After a surge in positive cases following the first week of school, Oklahoma State University issued a guidance to all students, faculty and staff that masks were to be expected.
With that, OSU and the Office of Academic Affairs are launching a campaign titled “Mask Up, it’s a win-win!”
Dr. Jeanette Mendez, OSU’s interim provost, said she hopes the campaign will assist in providing a consistent message across campus for the benefits of masking up.
“Really, with this Mask Up campaign, we are playing one role in a larger campaign to try to encourage students to wear masks in class,” Mendez said. “That is where we are coming from. We are thinking that in terms of academic affairs, what could we do to help encourage this? We contacted faculty and have encouraged them to talk to their classes and respectfully ask for them to wear masks.
“The number of students wearing masks weren’t ticking up high enough, which is why we thought that with a larger campaign, could we play a role in incentivizing it and what would it look like, which is how we arrived at what we are doing.”
Mendez and Dr. Chris Francisco, interim vice provost, will begin going around campus and stopping in random classes to reward students who are wearing their masks.
Students will receive $25 gift cards to the bookstore on campus. Like with OSU’s vaccine incentive campaign, Poke-a-thon, they are hoping positive reinforcement will help students get on board.
“I think we want to recognize when people go out of their way to help others,” Francisco said. “I think this is just an example of that. Even if they don’t themselves feel like they need the protection of a mask, thinking about other people around them and saying, ‘You know what, this is not a big sacrifice for me to make. I want to do something to try to keep everybody safe and try to keep as good of an environment as possible for everybody.’”
Francisco said he and Mendez hope to start making trips to classes on Friday and look to pick classes in a variety of colleges and departments. They will also make sure they are not disrupting a class by asking the professor first, he said.
Mendez said there will not be a problem for any student, faculty or staff member who needs a mask as there are thousands of them available, with another 104,000 on the way.
“We are ready to have over a hundred thousand masks ready and able to get in students’ hands and faculty and staff,” Mendez said. “So all faculty and staff will have two new masks. It is enough for every student to have two masks and then extras from there, so mask availability will not be an issue at all.
“They will be at all the hotspots. We will have some at Classroom Building and some at the Union, departments, colleges and other divisions. We are really thinking about where students are going and will need one.”
Francisco and Mendez hope the campaign can start making a difference on campus and that more and more people will begin to start masking up to help cultivate OSU’s culture of care.
“We have heard from some students who have talked about why they wear their masks and how they want to be considerate of those around them and people who are more vulnerable around them,” Francisco said. “They really want to try to be as kind as possible and we want to show our appreciation to those students who are doing that, who really have that Cowboy Family attitude, where we all look out for each other and help those that are more vulnerable.
“We want to do everything we can to keep everyone safe.”