Unmasking in the Heights: A Controversial COVID-19 Policy for Montclair State Residents

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Published October 20, 2020
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The Montclarion
When students enter their residence halls, they are being asked to remove their personal protective masks for proper identification. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

With coronavirus (COVID-19) still spreading rapidly throughout the United States, many universities are on high-alert, with many not allowing students to live on campus during the fall 2020 semester. Montclair State University is one of the few New Jersey colleges that decided to keep its residence halls open.

This of course has brought some complications; students are allowed to live on campus, but they are not allowed to have guests in their rooms. As always, students have found ways to break the school’s guest policies by sneaking guests into their buildings.

To counteract this problem, the directors of Residence Life have implemented a new policy, which requires students to show their university IDs and remove their protective face masks for proper identification.

Photo courtesy of John LaRosa

The aim of the new policy is to prevent students from breaking Residence Life’s current guest policy.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Since students arrived on campus in August, Montclair State has been strict with their social distancing and mask policies, but now the university seems to be sending contradictory messages with this new rule.

The school has been diligently trying to control the spread of COVID-19 on campus, but the new rule puts students in direct danger.

Jeffery Bengis, a freshman computer science major and campus resident of Dinallo Heights, voiced his concern about the policy.

“I think it is a stupid policy,” Bengis said. “Just the fact that we are encouraged to wear masks and socially distance and have to follow a contradicting policy is dumb. Contagious residue could be on the check-in desk plexiglass.”

Photo courtesy of John LaRosa

Jeffrey Bengis, a freshman computer science major, does not support Residence Life’s new identification policy.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Another resident of Dinallo Heights, who wished to remain anonymous, said he thought Residence Life was joking when he was asked to take off his mask in the building’s busy lobby. He further went on to say how he feels “unsafe” because of the new policy put in place.

It is not only students who are angry at the new policy, as several members of the Residence Life staff disapprove of the new policy as well.

Based on information gathered from multiple resident assistants (RA), a majority of them are not enforcing the policy. Most of the RAs only look at each student’s ID and say, “you are good,” or give them a thumbs up.

One RA, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of losing her job, said that she does not approve and exclaimed that “it does not make me feel safe, since so many kids are constantly coming in.”

Photo courtesy of John LaRosa

Some feel that the new policy for entry into residence halls puts them in direct danger.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Alex Colon, a senior marketing major and RA, explained that the policy has its benefits.

“The premise of having it is good,” Colon said. “Residents are not sneaking people in anymore, and I do think the policy is safe. It does create awkward situations and puts us on the spot. I often have to call out students who don’t remove their masks and tell them to come back.”

Students and RAs alike seem to disapprove of the new policy put in place by Montclair State. COVID-19 is a highly contagious and often deadly disease, and the new policy indiscriminately subjects campus residents to a higher risk for becoming infected with the virus.

Genicka Voltaire, the assistant head of Residence Life for Dinallo Heights, was asked multiple times for an interview or a statement on the policy, but never responded.

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