by TABITHA ROBINSON
Masks are required in UMW dining locations when not actively eating. However, some students have noticed that their peers are unmasked while walking around or socializing indoors.
“Most of the people I see unmasked or wearing masks below their chins seem to be athletes,” said Jessie Mills, a sophomore biomedical sciences major. “They will be wearing clothes with their sport on it and it’s really disheartening to see that they would represent their UMW sport in such a negative way. It’s disrespectful to those who actually follow the rule.”
Mills’ sentiment is a cause for concern among some athletes, as they worry about the reputation that UMW sports teams are maintaining with non-athletic students.
“Why would you [not wear a mask]? You’re just giving all of us a bad name,” said Kevin Munson, a junior environmental science major and UMW athlete. “I feel that the current mask policies are pretty fair. Like when you’re in a building, wear your mask—it’s not that hard.”
Maggie Mrowka, a senior business administration and marketing double major and UMW athlete, believes the masking issue is among athletes and non-athletes.
“There is often a divide placed between athletes and non-athletes, although at the end of the day we are all here to get an education,” said Mrowka. “Based on my personal experience alone, I had four people in one of my classes have to be excused for not wearing masks, and they were all ‘non-athletes,’ but I still don’t think athletic status is relevant to this.”
Mrowka acknowledges that all students must fulfill their responsibility by wearing masks.
“Although wearing a mask isn’t convenient or comfortable, it’s what we have to do as a community,” said Mrowka. “As an athlete myself, there’s a lot of added responsibility … but I also understand that everyone on campus has their own responsibilities.”
On Oct. 20, UMW Athletics sent a schoolwide email about changes to their policy. The policy now requires spectators to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test before attending a game.
“Due to the current pandemic and the varying sizes of indoor athletic venues, UMW Athletics will require proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test (within 24 hours) before admittance to any of the home contests.” The email ends, “This policy applies to current UMW students as well. All guests must wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, at all times while indoors.”
Anna Billingsley, associate vice president for University Relations and director of communications, suggests students utilize the COVID concern form when they see people breaking COVID protocols.
“We can assure you that we follow up with each incident report in which a student is named,” said Billingsley.
Director of Athletics Patrick Catullo receives COVID concern reports involving student-athletes.
“Any individual that has a concern with a student-athlete is instructed to complete a UMW Concerns Report,” he said. “I am then copied on all of the filed reports involving student-athletes and follow up as appropriate with the coach and SAs.
Mrowka stressed that the mask-wearing habits of students, both athletic and non-athletic, reflect back on the university.
“UMW student-athletes work hard every day to represent the school in a positive light, just like all other students do in the classroom and in their [respective] activities,” she said.