University prioritizes peer-to-peer enforcement of safety measures

By Jenna Thomas

The fall semester at Cleveland State University is underway with a hybrid campus repopulation in place. The university announced in June that it would be repopulating campus this Fall with several stipulations and safety measures in place. The safety measures include a social contract, daily health assessments, social distancing measures, hand sanitizing stations located throughout campus, and masks. 

(Cleveland State mascot, Magnus, in front of the Student Center, Source: CSU Department of Marketing)

To try to better enforce safety protocols on campus, the university implemented the Student Safety Ambassador (SSA) program. The SSA consists of more than 50 trained students to be campus safety ambassadors, and ensure students and faculty are adhering to the measures in place, such as wearing masks.

“We have chosen a ‘peer approach’ with the [SSA]  program because peer influence is one of the biggest factors in choosing, changing, and normalizing the behavior of students on a college campus,” said CSU Health and Wellness Coordinator, Denise Keary.

Aside from student ambassadors scattered throughout the campus community, there have been no reports of other enforcement measures CSU is taking to ensure safety protocols are being followed. One student is concerned for the effectiveness of the SSA program stating he witnessed a student ambassador using harsh techniques such as yelling to attempt to make a student wear a mask on campus.

“I think people are generally less open to other ideas when they are immediately targeted with hate. And the reality is: it won’t get them to wear a mask,” the student said.

At the same time, President  Sands has been commending the student body for following the protocols and doing so on their own accord. In the most recent town hall, Sands again emphasized this point. 

“The personal responsibility piece is extremely important. As you might expect, we’ve done really really well on the masking requirement. Folks have been really respectful and understanding on how much it means. We have a little bit of work to do on the physical distancing,” he said.

Student Matthew Lauren has two classes on campus and has had a similar experience.

“Everyone has been really good about it, and all my on-campus professors have really emphasized the need to wear them in the buildings too,” Lauren said. “I’ve seen some people without them but only outside.”

With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it will affect CSU students and faculty, the university will be under a microscope when it comes to enforcement of safety measures on campus. These safety measures are also what keeps immunocompromised students safe.