Miami University President Greg Crawford issued a ‘Presidential Request’ regarding face masks via email to Miami students and faculty. The email went out just before 3 p.m., an hour before a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest.
“Effective immediately,” Crawford wrote, “I am partnering with the Student Body President and the Vice President for Student Life to issue a Presidential Request that all people on campus wear a mask covering their nose and mouth at all times indoors when outside your residence hall room or office as well as outdoors when interacting with others that do not share housing with you.”
Sophomore Alexis Bebout, psychology and sociology major, said she doesn’t believe students will follow Crawford’s request.
“It's kind of confusing walking around campus,” Bebout said. “Sometimes you see people fully wearing masks and obviously following the rules. But then there’s a crowd of people right behind them not wearing their masks.”
The same day, the BLM protest organizers asked students to wear masks and socially distance.
Crawford acknowledged the protestors in his email.
“Peaceful protest is an important part of the democratic process,” Crawford wrote. “We urge you to protect your health and the health of our community by wearing a mask or face covering and by maintaining physical distancing whenever possible.”
Bebout said she appreciated that Crawford mentioned the protest and supported it.
“I really liked that because at least he acknowledged it,” Bebout said.
Crawford went on to write that masks should be worn during in-person classes, public spaces and residence halls or office suites. He asked that masks be worn outdoors when with people other than those you live with.
“Wearing a facial covering is one of the easiest and most effective strategies we can employ to keep each other healthy,” Crawford wrote.
According to Miami’s COVID dashboard, Miami has 263 active COVID-19 cases and 1,437 cumulative cases as of Sept. 25.
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Carole Johnson, interim director of university communication and news, wrote in an email to The Miami Student that failure to follow the Healthy Together Pledge is treated as a violation of the Code of Student Conduct and could result in disciplinary action.
“Over the past few weeks, we have been happy to see a decline in the number of new cases of COVID-19 among our students,” Johnson wrote, “however, we do not want that to give our campus community a sense of false security. COVID-19 continues to circulate and we must continue to take precautions to limit its spread on our campus.”
Bebout said she thinks the coronavirus has become politicized around the country and especially in Ohio.
“People want to do what they feel they should be doing,” Bebout said. “I’m sure we’re surrounded by people who don't even believe COVID is as serious as it is.”
Bebout said she sometimes still feels hesitant about wearing her mask on campus.
“I always feel like I never know what I should be doing,” Bebout said. “I don’t want to feel outcasted [sic] by wearing my mask.”