Since the first day of school, masks have replaced smiles as a campus fixture. However, the restriction has also become a new form of expression for students, faculty and visitors.
From showing off personality to making statements of political activism or positivity, mask wearers have found a new way to raise their voices without saying anything.
“Being able to have a mask where I can say something without speaking is awesome,” said senior English major Jessica Hammon. “I love being able to express myself with the mask because I don’t like talking. I’m a very quiet person but I let my style speak for me.”
On Wednesday she had on a bright pink face mask with ‘Black Lives Matter’ printed in bold on the front.
“I’ve been trying to be a bigger part of the Black Lives Matter movement. I feel like it needs to be a bigger voice. We have a lot of Black and minority students on campus and it’s important to support our fellow students and I feel like wearing this mask is helping to show that support.”
Most commonly seen are the free face coverings provided by Southern Utah University, allowing students to safely express school pride both on and off campus.
“It was nice that they were free, but it’s also fun to represent the school where I go,” said Morgan Smith, a senior majoring in communication.
Masks of all patterns and colors are seen in the halls of SUU. Victoria Schaefermeyer, a senior studying criminal Justice, walked through the bookstore sporting a succulent and cactus print mask.
“I love succulents, they’re my favorite plant, so I picked the pattern based off of that,” Schaefermeyer said. “Mine’s pretty low-key, but I’ve seen some weird shapes and sizes, and people get creative about stuff that is personal to them and that’s super cool.”
In addition to expression, the masks have become a talent showcase, allowing many who walk the grounds to show off the product of their newfound mask-making hobby.
Whether fashionable, funky, or merely functional, the masks show a willingness to follow rules that can keep those around us safe and make the sacrifice necessary to keep campus open.
Story by: Larissa Beatty
Photos by: Mitchell Quartz and Larissa Beatty