Some students reprimanded for low masking compliance in dorms
January 28, 2022
COVID-19 Resource Coordinator and Director of Residential and Student Life Mike Ranen notified all first-year students and students from select upperclassmen housing on campus Tuesday that a recent lack of adherence to indoor masking policies in dorm common spaces had elicited numerous complaints from housekeeping staff and had even caused some housekeepers to request a change to their building assignments. The message was circulated to all first year students and college house residents by email on Tuesday and to the campus community in yesterday’s communications update.
“No one should feel uncomfortable in their place of work and fear coming to work,” Ranen wrote in his email to first years. “Some of you may notice that your regular housekeepers no longer work in your building. That is because of poor compliance of first year students with our regulations … Do better.”
According to the current COVID-19 campus guidelines, surgical, KN95 or equivalent (N95, KF-94) masks are required in all indoor spaces, except for private residences or offices, including in dorm hallways, bathrooms and lounges.
“Over the past two years I have sent targeted messages to individuals or groups reminding them about our COVID-19 policies when I hear about low compliance,” Ranen wrote in an email to the Orient. “I heard from a number of employees about low mask compliance in common areas of first year residences.”
A proctor in a first year dorm, who is a member of the Class of 2022 and asked to remain anonymous to protect the confidentiality of their housekeeper, said that the housekeeper on their floor had shared confusion over the email in a private conversation between the two of them.
“I remember [the housekeeper for my floor] saying, ‘I feel like this email is so weird … since the email has been sent, I feel like first year students are avoiding me and not saying hi to me, and my colleagues say it’s the same for them,’” the proctor said. “[The housekeeper said the email] was putting a strain on the relationship between housekeepers and students. [The housekeeper] was pretty upset about it.”
Leonard Mayorga ’25, a resident of Appleton Hall, said that the College’s messaging around masking policy in dorms initially confused him.
“Obviously, I wasn’t 100 percent sure coming in whether or not we needed to wear masks all the time, but apparently we did,” Mayorga said. “It feels a little strange to put on a mask to walk to the bathroom and then brush my teeth and then put a mask on to walk back to my room, but if it makes the housekeepers feel more comfortable, then I’m happy with it.”
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The guidelines appear to have been not clearly communicated based on Mayorga’s comments, so a polite reminder email should have been sufficient. Instead, Ranen used a sanctimonious and judgemental tone, alienating both the students and the cleaning staff. Perhaps he should reflect, apologize, and pledge to “…Do better.”