#ProtectingThePride encourages students to continue to wear masks



Dr. Gabe Willis, Dean of Students, “caught” @therealmarr5, @ccurryy_ and @tre.7k wearing their masks correctly and posted them #ProtectingThePride on Instagram.

Dean of Students Gabe Willis has been promoting a new trend on campus called #ProtectingThePride on his Instagram page.

The university mandated that all faculty and students must wear a mask on campus in all university buildings at all times. Any person not following this policy, will result in disciplinary action.

Willis explained what #ProtectingThePride entails.

“The ‘caught you wearing a mask’ idea came forth after we were looking for creative ways to encourage students to wear their mask properly while on campus,” said Willis. “We were having some minor problems with students adhering to the masks/face covering requirement. There were a pile of stickers that were on my desk and from there, I decided to add some giveaways to it to really encourage students to wear their mask appropriately and protect the pride.”

The Dean of Students can be seen on campus wearing his mask and encouraging others to do so as well.

“The message it spreads is to always be mindful of doing your part to protect one another and keep each other safe,” mentioned Willis. “It also allows me to connect with students around campus, which is something that I love to do.”

Students who have been “caught” wearing masks can receive incentives for adhering to the university’s policy. 

“This past week, I’ve offered a free lunch to students who were ‘caught’ wearing their mask appropriately,” said Willis. “This week it’ll likely be some Southeastern swag.”

According to Willis in an Instagram video, students have also been able to receive Starbucks and his “special” green and gold stickers.

Peyton Sawyer, a senior communication major, discussed his opinion on #ProtectingThePride.

“I don’t really think it is effective because people are going to wear masks for one reason,” shaed Sawyer. “It is required and not doing so will result in punishment.”

Sawyer believes that urging students to wear masks is not significant.

“I don’t think there should be more encouragement because like I said, people are going to wear them when they have to,” explained Sawyer. “Encouragement of them would have no effect and would be beyond pointless.”

However, Hadley Hebert, a sophomore nursing major, supports #ProtectingThePride.

“I think it is a really great way to get students to wear their masks,” said Hebert. “We might not want to do it, but we have to in order to keep the campus safe. Plus, students love free stuff, especially food, so it’s a smart way to get us participating. ”

Hebert expressed her gratitude for Willis’ initiatives.

“Dr. Willis’ efforts are super appreciated by myself and others on campus,” shared Hebert. “I’m glad that there is someone on campus who looks out for the student body the way he does. You can tell how much he cares with these initiating ideas.”