The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

O’Pake employees struggle to enforce mask compliance

Ted Chesson ’22, a student worker at O’Pake, remains masked while others are unmasked. PHOTOS: KELLY SHANNON ’24/THE HAWK

Student workers in O’Pake Recreation Center said they are struggling to get gym users to comply with the university’s mask mandate.

“People just come in without masks on, and you ask them to put a mask on. They put [a mask] on for five minutes and then they take it off,” said a student worker who asked not to be identified out of concern for how her comments would be perceived.

On the St. Joe’s Campus Recreation website, as well as the doors to O’Pake the mask policy for all recreational buildings is posted. The policy reads: “In accordance with University policy, masks must be worn indoors at all times. Those not wearing masks will be asked to leave the facility.”

The student worker said their expectations for compliance with the policy were low, but things still have not gone as well as she thought they would.

“I figured they would listen if we told them to put masks on, and they have not,” the worker said “[Compliance] is lower than my expectations, but my expectations were not that high to begin with.”

The strength room at O’Pake recreation center on Feb. 7.

The Hawk reached out to the student worker’s supervisor for comment. The supervisor declined to comment. If a patron refuses to comply with an attendant’s request, the attendant has been
instructed to write down the patron’s name and get a supervisor, said fitness center attendant Gia Constantino ’23.

“If that does not work, we have to kick them out,” Constantino said.

Raquel Lam ’23, another fitness center attendant, said the attendants have been told to “be nice about it” but it is a tough sell.

“We understand that it is an inconvenience, but we need to work together to mitigate the spread,” Lam said.

In order to prevent the spread of covid-19 in gyms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that “in fitness facilities, staff members and patrons should wear a mask, and facilities should enforce consistent and correct mask use (including during high-intensity activities).”

The student worker said disposable masks are provided free of charge for those who did
not bring one with them. “We have masks on site,” the worker
said. “We will walk out with a box of them if no one has them.”

Constantino said she hands out masks multiple times during her shift.

“I have gone above and beyond to run around O’Pake when we are out of masks to get more masks and bring them to students.” Constantino said.

Lam said the employees do not like being “the bad guy,” but they have to enforce the mandate.

“Your peers are working out and you want them to have a good time, and you do not want to be the bearer of bad news,” Lam said.

Lam said faculty and staff have responded well to the efforts of the student staff. “They really appreciate when the attendants are doing their job and keeping up with the policy.” Lam said. “So to know that not everyone sees us as the bad guy is encouraging.”

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