Be Kind And Remind

The fine art of promoting preventive behavior at Reed. This week we're focusing on masks.

By Public Affairs | September 3, 2020

We’ve been getting a lot of questions on ways to encourage folks to honor public-health guidelines for reducing the spread of Covid-19 on campus. What’s the best thing to say—without coming off like a busybody?

In this post, we’re going to focus on masks (which we are using as a general term to include face coverings and facial haberdashery of all stripes). Stay tuned for future posts on social distancing and other measures.

The first thing to acknowledge, of course, is that the guidelines on masks are critical to Reed’s ability to keep campus open and hold in-person classes. They are designed to protect you and to protect the community. That said, sometimes people forget. Sometimes they may be confused. And sometimes they may have good reason for doing what they’re doing.

We scoured the internet for intelligent strategies, and we encourage you to check out the articles below. If you’re in a hurry (TL;DR), here are some quick-and-dirty (yet totally hygienic!) guidelines:

  • Be kind and remind. Try respect and compassion over judgment.
  • Acknowledge the awkwardness. We are all new to this.
  • Speak up, then let go. You can’t control how others respond.
  • Choose your battles. Focus on high-risk situations, not boundary calls.
  • Remember, this is not about you, and it’s not about them. It’s about Reed.


Resources For Asking


Reed Scenarios

You were planning to study in the lounge in the Library but two unmasked people are already there talking to each other. What do you say?

  • “I know this is awkward, but would you mind putting on your masks? I’d really like to share this space with you but can’t do it unless you’re masked up.”
  • “Isn’t this place amazing? This is one of my favorite spots on campus. Do you mind putting on your masks so we can share it?”

You are walking through a hallway in Eliot and pass by an unmasked person. There is no time for extended exchange.

  • Use a non-verbal reminder. Point to your own mask.
  • “Mask up, people!”
  • “They’ve got extra masks at the Phys Plant!”

In the dorm bathroom, someone is brushing their teeth—unmasked.

  • Taking showers and brushing teeth is one time when we can use a shared space without wearing a mask. Give them some space! Try another bathroom or try again later. 

You are in a classroom waiting for class to begin. You and other people are wearing your masks and maintaining six feet of distance. An unmasked person enters the room.

  • Do you mind putting on your mask? They’re required when you’re inside a shared space in a building at Reed.”
  • “Don’t forget to wear your mask while you’re indoors! It helps protect the health of everyone on campus.”
  • “I know it’s awkward, but could you please put on your mask so we can share this space?” 

You are walking on a path on the Great Lawn and spot an unmasked jogger heading towards you on the same path. When they get closer, they change course to maintain six feet of distance. 

  • Try some non-verbal acknowledgement. A nod or a wave.
  • “Thanks, that was thoughtful.”
  • “Looking strong!”


Asking someone why they are not wearing a mask, instead of telling them to wear one, is another helpful tool. This is a chance for someone to be heard, which lowers any defensiveness.

Shaming people for not wearing masks is counterproductive.

Need a mask? Check out our valiant Environmental Health and Safety Office in the Phys Plant!

Tags: Campus Life, Covid-19