This past June, second-year recreation, parks, and tourism administration student, Catherine Ogden took on the role of Secretary of Community Relations for the Executive Cabinet within ASI Student Government. Many of her duties are based around work with the local San Luis Obispo community with multiple projects revolving around changes to ensure COVID-19 safety.
At the start of fall quarter, Catherine worked on an educational campaign for social media supporting the impact of changes students can make throughout the pandemic. This included baseline information such as symptoms, testing information, and health services hours. It was incredibly informative, but it was missing student voices. The Cal Poly campus remained positive and responsible in the face of the pandemic and she wanted to showcase how many people have remained vigilant and aware of their impact on the community. Catherine envisioned the concept for a video project compiling student leaders sharing their reasons for wearing a mask. This idea to help build a sense of community even though most social interactions have been halted, was shared with ASI President Shayna Lynch and Chief of Staff Elizabeth Roseman.
Catherine says, “I was met with a lot of support for this project. Everyone I reached out to and asked to be a part of the campaign was so enthusiastic and ready to help. Being a student in a leadership role, I recognized the importance of wearing a mask and how it can set an example for the rest of the student body, and so many others felt the same way.” Catherine also touched on the best part of the project, how so many students rose to the occasion to help out and demonstrate all the reasons why wearing a mask can make a positive impact, “It was really awesome to see such a multitude of students from different organizations come together to simply show they care.”
Large changes, such as the ones Cal Poly has undergone to provide a safe environment for all students, have the ability to make us feel helpless at times. The pandemic has impacted each and every one of our lives in ways both seen and unseen and has completely redefined the meaning of “the college experience.”
Through the “Why I Wear A Mask” video, Catherine hopes to translate to viewers that no matter how small it might seem, wearing a mask is something you can do that will make a difference. Whether it be for the ability to visit your parents safely, protect your at-risk or immunocompromised roommate, to attend your in-person classes, or demonstrate a simple act of kindness, wearing a mask shows you care about the wellbeing of this community. It’s a step toward a solution and is an easy way to help ‘SLO the spread’ of COVID-19.
Despite all the challenges the pandemic has brought, it granted students the ability to lead by example. Catherine is so glad she was able to have the opportunity to highlight this in a campaign and is grateful to be a part of the community’s teamwork. Remember to wear your mask Mustangs!