(The Center Square) – Mask wearing may be the norm on Illinois college campuses this fall if a recent survey holds true.
Intelligent.com asked 2,000 current and incoming college students their plans, and despite a majority being vaccinated, 63% said they would voluntarily wear masks in certain settings even if schools aren’t requiring them. Intelligent.com contributor Beata Williams said that was a surprising turnaround.
“Last year and even in the spring academic year, students seemed a little more resistant to wearing masks,” Williams said.
College students are not as divided as the nation has been this past year and a half. Students in COVID-19 hotspots that are typically more anti-vaccine and mask reported that there were nearly as likely to take precautions on campus this fall as those in more vaccinated areas.
Students in the Midwest reported 61% will wear a mask on campus regardless of institution rules. The results were similar around the country.
Most, if not all Illinois schools, are asking that students wear face coverings if they are not vaccinated.
On its website, Illinois State University in Normal goes as far as to discourage “mask bullying.”
“Members of the University community should feel free to continue to wear face coverings without judgment,” according to the website. “It is appropriate for an individual who chooses to wear a face covering for personal health reasons to ask others to be respectful of this choice and to wear a face covering and/or practice social distancing in their presence.”
Eric Jome, director of media relations at ISU, said the ideal situation is to get students vaccinated.
“Encourage students to get vaccinated so they don’t have to take part in the testing program,” he said. “So it is either vaccines or testing.”
Southern Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University are both requiring face coverings for those who are not vaccinated.
Politics didn’t play a big part in the Intelligent.com survey responses. Sixty-two percent of students who identified with the Republican party stated they plan to wear masks across various campus settings regardless of rules at their respective institutions. That is just slightly lower than students who identified as Democrat.
Finally, a majority of students said they plan to “party smarter.” When asked about different campus settings and the likelihood of mask-wearing, the category with the highest “yes” percentage was indoor parties at 70%. That was higher than classroom (66%) and dorm hallways and common areas (61%).
“There are quite a number of them that did go through COVID,” said Williams. “Maybe they really are taking the situation a little more seriously.”