By Aziah Siid
The coronavirus pandemic left the majority of the 8,000-student Morgan State University community away from campus for 17 months. After being home for over a year, students were greeted with new additions to campus life such as an improved student service center, dining food options and the mandate to wear facial coverings while indoors.
The university welcomed back students to a fully reopened campus last week. The spirit and energy of Morgan hasn’t gone anywhere, but strict restrictions, like mask wearing and social distancing, implemented for campus safety, are here to stay until further notice.
The more people wear masks, the more common it is to see face coverings discarded throughout the campus and in the streets.
Cheyenne Fenton, senior and economics major, from Bronx, N.Y., said she instantly noticed the difference in certain areas near campus from before the mask-wearing era to present day.
“As a whole, masks are an inconvenience. You can’t really keep them, but it’s kind of weird when I see them on the floor,” said Fenton. “Seeing the mask on the floor bothers me. Just pick it up if you see that you dropped it.”
Kwadwo Brobbey, senior at Coppin State University, resides both in New York City and Baltimore, so the varying mask requirements usually result in him losing or misplacing his mask.
“Now I feel like it’s even harder to keep up with it because some places don’t require it,” Brobbey said. “So, you may walk into one place that doesn’t require it, and walk into another place that requires it, so you may not even have it.”
Brobbey admits to being part of the population that contributes to the unruly littering of masks, but also said the changing of them so frequently also makes it difficult to keep track, especially if you’re outside and moving around all day.
“I use a disposable mask, so I just throw it wherever,” said Brobbey. “I try to switch mine out two or three times a week. I try to pay attention to where I dispose of them, but you know if it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Alexandra Dormoy of Brooklyn, N.Y., mother of two, said regardless of how annoying constantly keeping a face covering may be, it’s a part of our job to be accountable for them.
“I feel like everybody litters and it’s disgusting. I don’t know why people can’t hold onto their stuff until they find a garbage can,” Dormoy said.
“I never discard my mask before I go home. Ever.”
Environmental experts have sounded the alarm for PPE, Personal Protective Equipment, and its impact on the everyday discarding of them.
Gary Stokes, founder of OceansAsia, a marine conservation group, said, “It’s quite alarming where these are ending up. It’s not just the beaches. We’re getting them out in nature, but also downtown; you see them on the streets, in the gutter, on public transport.”
The writer is a student in the Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication