@maskuptcu

@maskuptcu

Student-led social media project to advocate for safe mask-wearing practices on TCU's campus

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In Fall of 2020 during the beginning of our school year, COVID cases skyrocketed to upwards of 550 on and off campus. Fear ran rampant as students worried they'd experience a nightmarish repeat of March. Rumors swirled through campus that students would be sent home to take class on Zoom once more for the semester.

 

Some students championed mask-wearing to the point that a shame culture arose, while others emphasized personal freedom above all else. Division and tension reared its ugly head. Rules were enforced, but there was little discussion behind the "why" of it all.

 

In the midst of the chaos, I realized there was a story to be told. There were stories to be told. Stories of why students choose to wear a mask, beyond "it's the rule." Stories that could promote change. Stories that could unify and lead to deeper understanding.

In an effort to encourage empathy and vulnerability, I started a social media campaign on Instagram called @maskuptcu adorned with the hashtags #maskuptcu and #iwearmymaskbecause. In the campaign, I took photos of students wearing their mask and holding up a white board with their personal reason for masking up. In the caption of each photo, participants shared a detailed story behind their statement on the white board.

 

Responses of all kinds arose -- everything from "#iwearamaskbecause my best friend is stuck in Vietnam and I want her to come back" to "#iwearamaskbecause I want to experience live theatre again." The initial participants were TCU Resident Assistants, but eventually the entire school got involved. Hall Directors, Dining Hall Employees, Vice Chancellors, and even the Chancellor himself, Victor Boschini, made appearances in the campaign.​

Quickly gaining recognition through story reposts and shares, #maskuptcu became the chatter all across campus. 

Fortunately, COVID cases on TCU's campus dropped weeks later, and I believe my campaign helped people reframe their decision to wear a mask in a more human light. I believe it helped students, professors, and horned frog fans alike consider the implications of their actions and the stories of their peers. 

​​@maskuptcu was an acknowledgement that in the thick of the pandemic, wearing a mask was about more than just rules, it was about loving people.

Ultimately, my efforts were recognized by Craig Allen, Director of Housing, as well as Kathy Cavins-Tull, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. I was featured on TCU360, the TCU student newspaper, for my efforts. I was also featured on the American Campus Communities' website and Instagram page as an American Campus Communities Champion. Through my nomination, I was able to make a donation to a charitable organization of my choice, Union Gospel Mission of Fort Worth, an organization dedicated to providing food, shelter, and supportive services to thousands of men, women, and children experiencing homelessness. 

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