Wearing masks at the University of Oklahoma is required indoors and outdoors, yet the consequences for those not following COVID-19 policies seem minimal to students who have been complying.
According to the university’s masking policy and Kesha Keith, director of media relations at OU, masks are required unless community members are alone and in a private space, eating, drinking, playing an instrument or are outdoors and able to properly socially distance. Masks are required outdoors when proper social distancing is not possible.
OU provides a public incident reporting form to complete when a person fails to align with the university’s policies. This form is available to report any kind of misbehavior including refusing to wear a mask or noncompliance with any of the other COVID-19 policies.
On Aug. 25, OU international security studies junior Crispin South tweeted about the lack of accountability in regard to COVID-19.
OU Students!! If you've been wondering how to report people who refuse to comply with COVID-19 policies, (Masks, social distancing, etc.) you can use this form from the office of student conduct! https://t.co/1EB0sKEeeO— Crispin South (@CrispinSouth) August 25, 2020
“If you’ve been wondering how to report people who refuse to comply with COVID-19 policies — masks, social distancing, etc. — you can use this form from the Office of Student Conduct,” South wrote in the tweet.
The form can be found on OU’s Student Conduct website under the COVID-19 Resources tab. South said many students have no idea this form can be used for COVID-19-related incidents.
“A couple of people asked me where they could report people who are not following masking rules so I looked around the COVID-19 policies and found the incident reporting form,” South said in an interview with The Daily. “I haven’t seen anything like this in my email.”
Derrick Dixon, assistant dean of students and director in the Office of Student Conduct, said once a student is reported for not following an OU-instated policy, the allegation is reviewed by a conduct officer. If the incident violates the code of conduct, the student will receive an email to schedule a mandatory meeting with the conduct officer within five class days.
After the meeting, if the conduct officer finds a student in violation of the code of conduct, the student will be issued educational sanctions.
“Educational (sanctions) can range from a written warning to expulsion from the institution, or anything in between that can best help facilitate learning for the student,” said Dixon in an email to The Daily.
The same process is used for student organizations not following the code of conduct. If a false report is made in regards to someone violating an action outlined in the code of conduct, the student reporting the incident can face Student Conduct charges.
“Any individual that is experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms, or who believes that another member of the OU community is experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms should contact the Goddard Health Center as soon as possible,” said Dixon.
South said he is concerned about the apparent absence of consequences for those ignoring the COVID-19 guidelines.
South said he hopes students can feel safer and more inclined to do the right thing with more publicity of the reporting form.
“I hope that increases accountability on campus,” South said. “I personally have seen people not following guidelines, not wearing masks and if we are able to hold each other accountable better it will ultimately help us stay on campus longer.”