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OU students believe masking policy enforcement is ineffective despite university's messaging, reporting tool

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Student section

The student section watches the Sooners’ game against Kansas State on Sept. 26.

According to OU’s masking policy, all community members must wear a CDC-approved mask in indoor facilities on campus. However, some students said they doubt the feasibility of enforcing the policy. 

When community members fail to adhere to the masking policy, students can report violations through the general student conduct incident report form or by calling 844-428-6531, the 24-hour reporting hotline, according to Derrick Dixon, assistant dean of students and director of the Office of Student Conduct.

When a report is made, a conduct officer will review the information given. If it is deemed under the jurisdiction of the code of conduct, the officer will notify the charged student via email, Dixon said. Failure to schedule a mandatory meeting with the conduct officer within five class days will result in a hold on their enrollment and waiving the right to any further due process. 

“It is a priority for the university to create an environment that is as safe as possible,” Dixon said. “To help achieve this goal, the University Masking Policy provides guidance for community members in relation to appropriate and inappropriate masking behavior.”

Dixon said the mask policy also applies on game days in the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. If a student is not wearing a mask, they may be fined, suspended, and subject to community service.

Several students, like journalism freshman Addie Whightsil, said asking students to report masking violations isn’t a practical solution.

“There’s not much sense in filing a report if you don’t even know their name, and it's not like you’re going to go straight up to them and ask,” Whightsil said. “So quite honestly, I think it’s pointless.”

Creative media production junior Jake Sarey said he hasn’t seen enforcement of the masking policy in his experience on campus so far.

“I definitely see people who are not following it to the best of their ability that, at least to my knowledge, have not been disciplined for it,” Sarey said.

Dixon said students should be aware of the masking policy because of the signage and communication from the university. 

“Students will receive consistent messaging, both inside and outside of the classroom that highlights the University Mandatory Masking Policy and its expectations,” Dixon said. 

Dixon said the messaging is scattered across campus in the form of signs placed in high-traffic student areas on campus and also stated in places like course syllabi, Canvas and university websites. 

Dixon said he understands students want the traditional college experience but to get to that point, OU and its community members must unite to create a safe environment. 

“One of the foundations of success within a university is understanding how to effectively live within and be a part of a community,” Dixon said. “As such, as community members, we have to remember that our behavior, both negative and positive, has an impact on ourselves, others and the OU community as a whole.”

Whightsil said while there are opportunities for students to disregard masking, adherence is an important step to getting back to normal as soon as possible.

“A lot of people, when nobody’s looking, they’re going to take it off so it’s just going to be hard to catch everybody,” Whightsil said. “Ultimately, nobody really wants to wear a mask, but we have to.” 

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