Trey Brownlee

(Rock Hill, S.C.) – Many Winthrop University students were looking forward to getting back on campus in the fall and attempting to get back to a normal life as a student, but many obstacles stood in the way to prevent that due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Students faced a number of new rules and challenges this semester, including getting used to always wearing a mask on campus.

Masks are a part of everyday life now for most everyone, but for students, it was just one more step backwards on the way to returning to normal college life.

Junior accounting major Jefferson Allen said he doesn’t like the idea of masks, but he still wants to follow the rules, even though he noticed many people who do not follow the mask rule.

“I understand what the campus is doing on the guidelines that you have to wear it in the building and whatnot, but as soon as I get outside, I want to take it off,” Allen said.

“Sometimes you see people inside the building not wearing a mask. From my standpoint, I wear a mask everywhere I go pretty much except when I’m outside, but whether it’s teachers or workers or staff around campus, I don’t always see them wearing a mask or they aren’t wearing it correctly, so it kind of defeats the purpose.”

Students are required to wear masks while attending in-person classes, which are now set up to keep students six feet apart.

Masks have become a way to make a statement on campus and even in areas where masks are not required, many students still continue to wear them.

“I see people on scholars walk on the way to class in the morning and the majority of them are wearing masks. I feel when I take mine off or when someone else has their’s off, people who do have their mask on will judge me and the other people who don’t have a mask on,” said senior Kiana Rios.

While masks seem like an inconvenience, many students now seem to be adjusting and growing used to wearing cloth masks, including ones with designs, patterns or quotes.

As a result, some have wondered if it creates separation between people with the fancy cloth masks compared to basic surgical masks.

“I don’t see (cloth masks) becoming that big of a social separation tool. I think they are cool now and it’s a way for people to match their outfits so it could create some type of social difference, but I doubt it,” said junior C.J. Johnson.

However, Winthrop does not regulate the type of masks worn, as long as those who are inside campus buildings have some type of face covering.

“It can become a thing with different clothes, different brands, stuff like that where the blue surgical masks, they’re cheap, they come in fifty packs for like $3, but your cloth masks are like $10-$20, depending on where you get it, the design, the material. So I can see it in the long run becoming a social thing that cloth masks are superior (socially) to the disposal ones,” Johnson said.

Masks will continue to be a part of daily life, both on and off campus for the foreseeable future, so the adjustment culturally will be an interesting development down the line.

Especially, as some major brands such as Nike, Apple and Adidas have created name brand masks, creating the potential for some kind of social status for the person wearing the mask.

Regardless, until the COVID-19 pandemic is over and done with, students will have to put up with the masks and everything that comes with them.