University students and employees are required to wear masks upon returning to campus in the fall as part of the University’s COVID-19 safety measures.
Interim President Thomas Galligan said he has been generally impressed with students’ compliance in an Aug. 31 interview with the Reveille. Still, wearing masks has significantly altered on-campus culture.
Pre-physician assistant freshman Toni Ledwig said science shows that wearing a mask is the safest thing to do.
“It’s also the easiest because everybody has access to them so I don’t see why not,” Ledwig said. “Even if science is wrong, it’s not that bad having to wear one.”
Ledwig came to LSU from Japan and said living in the foreign country made her accustomed to wearing a face mask on a day-to-day basis.
“In Japan, anytime that you are sick or just have allergies, you wear a mask,” Ledwig said. “For me, it was already something that I knew how to do and it just makes sense.”
While students are mandated to wear face coverings and remain six feet apart in public spaces, others are tasked to enforce COVID-19 regulations to limit the spread around campus.
“It’s actually a part of my job today,” journalism freshman Chloe Carygehman said. “I’m passing out masks because I’m a part of the COVID-19 relief team.”
Carygehman said there are challenges in reinforcing University protocols toward students who refuse to adhere to the campus mask policy.
“The students can be kind of mean,” Carygehman said. “They just say no to your face and walk away.”
Carygehman said wearing a mask is a “small” part of what she can do to tackle the spread and keep others safe.
“Wearing a mask around campus doesn’t affect me for the most part,” Carygehman said. “It’s only annoying when I am ordering [food.]”
Being back on campus amid a pandemic proves to be an unavoidable battle for many University students. Industrial engineering freshman Holden Amedee said students need to “push through it.”
“Coming back to campus didn’t really bother me because I knew COVID-19 was going to happen and I knew we couldn’t avoid it,” Amedee said. “I’m wearing a mask to protect the safety of everyone else around me.”
Amedee said requiring face coverings at all locations on campus is a good idea that people should follow.
“I think the mask mandate around campus is a good idea and everybody should follow it in order to be considerate of others instead of just themselves,” Amedee said.
Math sophomore Trevor Billiot said there’s “not much to think about” in regards to pandemic protocols.
“It’s a little hot, but that’s just the inconvenience of wearing a mask,” Billiot said. “There [are] a lot of people around and I wanted to be as safe as possible. I think having to wear a face covering is definitely a lot safer than not.”
Graphic design junior Sophia Simon said wearing a mask is safe and not difficult to do.
Along with persistent mask wearing, Simon remains on campus with little fear due to minimal contact with other students and community members.
“I don’t really talk to many people, so it’s not really an issue,” Simon said. “I go on campus because I don’t think I’m going to catch corona just by going to one class.”
The University reported 788 cases of COVID-19 as of Sept. 20, according to the University’s COVID-19 reporting dashboard. With these rising numbers, students like music and microbiology sophomore Emma Stevens have taken social distancing measures a step further to “protect myself and protect others.”
“I don’t mind wearing a mask, I don’t think it’s an infringement on anything,” Stevens said. “It’s a small part that I can do to care about other people on campus. Even though they say cloth masks aren’t as effective as surgical masks, it still stops transmission. Anything to do my part to help people who are immunocompromised or don’t have the financial means to go get hospital care.”
Stevens is an out-of-state student and said she still wanted to come to LSU to get “in the swing of college” because she didn’t want to be stuck at home.
While living on campus, Stevens has taken extra initiatives to remain cautious of her health and others.
“I don’t sit down at restaurants and if I do, I sit outside,” Stevens said. “I also maintain a group of 10-15 people in my social circle and [I’m] not really branching out until I know it’s safer.”
For psychology freshman Mia Robinson, having family that could be infected when she goes home on the weekends is a strong factor in continuing pandemic safety measures.
“I think it’s fair to have to wear a mask,” said Robinson. “Obviously, there’s something going on and it’s the least we can do.”
Though family remains a risk, Robinson decided to live on campus for academic reasons.
“I want to have a normal college experience and I can focus better here than I can at home,” Robinson said. “I don’t really go out though. I stay in my dorm room most of the time.”