(Photo courtesy of UMass Lowell) The mask mandate at UMass Lowell has been in place since campus has re-opened.
Not knowing the time and place to wear a mask is a struggle for many UMass Lowell students. Student organizers and student workers are working on ways to manage the mask mandate.
All residence halls follow the same mask mandate policy.
As stated on the UMass Lowell website, face coverings are required in all common areas in residence halls. This includes hallways, lobbies, common rooms and elevators. Residents and their guests are not required to wear face coverings in assigned residence hall rooms.
The mask mandate policy began Fall 2020 and has adapted to different versions throughout the months. The residential advisors are the ones in charge of making sure the policy is being followed.
Deion Lightfoot-Taylor , a junior business administration major, is a residential advisor that works in the Riverhawk Village. He said student workers have a few ways to enforce the mask mandate in the residential halls. “What we’re doing is that we put some more signs up, and at the security desk we’ve been trying to let residents know as they come in that they need their masks on before they get into the building. We do try to give out warnings, but the policy has changed this year, so we are supposed to be writing up first defenses anytime you’re not wearing a mask.”
Students are required to wear a mask anytime they step out of their residential room/suite.
The consequences that could follow due to violation of the policy are on a need-to-know basis. The consequences are not used for punishment but instead for enforcement and awareness. “The write ups are handled by the student conduct office. For the masks, the ideology is that we’re not trying to get people in trouble for not wearing them, we’re just trying to bring awareness towards the mask mandate,” said Lightfoot-Taylor.
Other parts of campus have a different policy. “Face coverings are not required in personal offices when alone, in research spaces when alone, in cubicles or office spaces when alone at your desk, for faculty members when teaching an in-person class, when eating in the dining halls or other campus eateries, in residence hall rooms when alone or with a roommate, outdoors, for children under the age of two, for anyone with a medical condition that prevents the use of a face covering,” said Lightfoot-Taylor. Members of the UMass Lowell community do not need to wear a mask when sitting down in a food vicinity, like Starbucks, but masks are needed when waiting in line and waiting for the food and drinks.
Neyder Fernandez, who is a junior political science, peace and conflict studies major and UMass Lowell Student President, said he thinks the idea behind the mask mandate came to be through collaboration between executives and researchers. “I think that it was an executive decision because I’m looking at the press release now, and it was by the provost. So, I believe that it came from the executive board, and they spoke to a lot of the different doctors and researchers that are here at the university about what they thought,” said Ferndandez.
Due to not having authoritative figures in each building besides the residence halls that enforce the mask mandate, it is an honor system. Everybody should be wearing their mask, but it is up to individuals to follow through with the policy.