University of Maryland students have mixed feelings on how community members have complied with the university’s indoor mask mandate this semester.
All community members are required to wear a mask in public indoor spaces, with the exception of professors who can be maskless if they stay six feet apart from students.
Some students have taken to this university’s subreddit to air their grievances on the lack of mask wearing. One user posted on the subreddit about the lack of students wearing masks in Van Munching Hall. The individual lives with three people who have immunocompromised family members, and being in a space with people not wearing masks leaves them “terrified.”
But not all students share that sentiment.
Some students, such as junior architecture major Lauren Welch, haven’t run into issues with students or professors wearing masks improperly in classrooms. She has been fortunate in that regard, she said.
But she has noticed that people are more relaxed when it comes to dorms, and some won’t wear their masks.
“For me personally I feel fine when I see that,” she said. “I don’t get anxious, but I know that makes some people anxious.”
Like Welch, junior journalism major Tori Vandergriff noticed that most people wear their masks properly. There’s the occasional student with their mask under their nose, but she takes most issue with those wearing bandana masks or “gator masks” — the scarf-like masks that wrap around the person’s head and neck.
She doesn’t feel unsafe with this behavior, she said, but instead, she’s frustrated. After living in a pandemic for almost two years, she said she finds it exhausting to see people still unable to properly wear masks.
“I know that those aren’t the most safe or efficient masks to wear, and I do see a lot of those too this semester,” she said.
Sophomore biochemistry major Caleb Kidane said he sees the most improper mask wearing in Eppley Recreation Center. But employees there are very strict and will make you pull up your mask if they catch you wearing it under your nose.
But there are others who feel unsafe when it comes to improper mask wearing.
Erica Ryan and Lidia Gutu, who are doctoral students studying economics, said they have classes where professors don’t wear their masks while they teach. While they understand what they’re doing isn’t against the mandate, it doesn’t fall in line with their comfort levels.
One of the non mask-wearing professors tested positive for COVID-19 in Ryan’s class. The class has been virtual since.
Although Gutu was an outsider watching this unfold, it didn’t make it any less concerning.
“That single case got me very worried because I saw the way it affected people around me, and I wouldn’t want to be the next person to be just as affected just because of a personal choice,” Gutu said.
Nada Abdalla, a sophomore criminology and criminal justice major, also has a professor who takes their mask off while lecturing. They are very respectful of everyone in the class, she said, since the professor keeps a lot of distance between them and the class and puts their mask on anytime a student gets near. They also told students to let them know if they are uncomfortable with the lack of mask wearing.
She hasn’t seen many people purposely wearing masks improperly. She has seen some unintentional “slippage,” but she isn’t bothered unless someone is coughing or sneezing.
“If you’re showing symptoms keep [your mask] up — if you’re just slippage, just a little bit, then OK, that’s fine,” she said. “It depends on what the vibe is.”
However, Abdalla pointed out a counterintuitive behavior among students: going out to bars and other places and not wearing masks. While she feels that during the week, students are doing better than she expected, all safety measures go out the window when students go out, she said.
“We’re so good on the weekdays, but COVID is not real on the weekends,” Abdalla said.