Mask enforcement: A campus-wide effort



Aaron Austin, Dean of Students, passes out masks on the first day of fall classes inside the RSC on August 17.

Wichita State University is entering its third week of the fall 2020 semester and students still have questions surrounding the enforcement of the campus-wide mask requirement.

The policy states that all students are required to wear a mask indoors unless isolated in a private office. Students are also required to wear a mask outdoors when social distancing is not possible. 

Vice President of Student Affairs Teri Hall said that the student body has done a good job so far of complying.

“I have not heard of anyone who has absolutely refused to wear a mask yet,” Hall said. “I think, by and large, students are doing pretty good. I was out passing out masks on the first day of classes and I think just about every student I encountered had some type of mask on.”

Hall said that if faced with a student who refused to comply with the order, faculty have the rights to confront them.

“If a student doesn’t wear a mask and the faculty member says ‘Here, here’s a mask for you to put on’ and the student complies and takes their seat then everything is great,” Hall said. “[But] if the student refuses, the faculty member has the option of saying ‘Alright, then you can’t sit in my class until you’re wearing a mask.’’

Hall said the university has a process set up to allow faculty members to get higher authority involved with students who refuse.

“The faculty member could also then turn that student’s name over to student conduct and community standard for follow up through our judicial systems,” Hall said.

Hall said it’s important to remember that just because someone is outside, doesn’t mean they’re safe from contagion.

“I think where we have trouble is when students are in a social environment, especially a social environment outside where they think it’s okay to not have a mask on,” she said. “That’s why we’re trying to get the message out … [that] yeah, we here you, being outside is the safest place for you to be, agreed. But still contagions can fly within six feet. That’s the one place, in social events and group settings where we have the most trouble.”

The WSU Police Department is not directly involved in mask enforcement procedures. Instead, Hall said it lies with all campus members.

“Certainly [WSUPD] can help with that but usually [they] focus more on law than they do on policy,” she said. “Really it’s all of us. If we see students or anybody in a gathering and they don’t wear a mask [we can] say ‘Hey, could you consider wearing a mask?’”

Hall said that in the end, wearing a mask is about caring about others.

“We wear a mask to stop others from getting sick,” Hall said. “It’s not just to protect ourselves. We could say, ‘Well, I’m healthy. I’m not going to get sick.’ Well, that could be, but by wearing a mask I’m saying that I care about others and I’m not going to spread something that I don’t know I have.”