As COVID-19 numbers rise, “contact bands,” a system of communicating the comfort-level an individual has regarding contact and interaction with others, were introduced to SFA students by Student Affairs.
On the SFASU Instagram, a photo was posted with three different colored bands with the caption, “Red, yellow, green - Show your contact comfort level while fighting COVID-19”. The photo was taken down and then a video from Dr. Andrew Dies, Assistant Vice President of student affairs and dean of students, was put up expanding on the bands.
“We hope the bands contribute to the environment where, regardless of how you feel about physical proximity and physical touch, everyone is welcome,” Dies said. “The bands are a passive way of sharing your comfort level. We encourage everyone to #respecttheband.”
There are three bands available: green, yellow and red. The green band means the student is comfortable with contact, the yellow means the student is a little unsure with COVID and just want to make contact with elbows and fist bumps only and the red means the student wants no contact and to keep their distance from others.
“I think where we’re experiencing frustration in our society right now is where it appears that there are people who are being selfish and uninterested in how their actions affect other people,” chief marketing officer Graham Garner said. “Or where there are people who are mandating that other people do all of the things. We have to find somewhere in between.”
The band idea came from the Center for Teaching and Learning orientation where the attendees used paper bands. Dies was a speaker in one of the sessions and noticed these bands. He thought they would be a good idea for student use.
“I think it's a great way to respect people’s opinions about the whole thing,” Tiffany Dawn, a freshman interdisciplinary studies major from Eustace, said. “Even if you don't wear a mask and are super against it, you can still respect people and their values by knowing with the bracelets without any awkward conversation.”
However, the negatives of the band also have been addressed by the student body.
“I think they're a joke,” Paige Graham, a junior environmental science major and Lewisville-native, said. “It’s a lackluster reactionary tactic, instead of any kind of prevention. Instead of doing anything substantial, like limiting class sizes and not promoting super spreader events, they chose to ask their student body to wear wrist bands.”
With many crowded events on campus happening, Garner “continues to ask students to make smart decisions.”
“It is concerning,” Garner said. “We know that even when people try to do all the right things, there's still that risk and some people still do get sick. It is a strong reminder to folks to take personal responsibility.”
Garner is a member of the COVID Task Force made up of a number of people around campus that meet several times a week where “anything you can think of related to COVID, [they] talk about.” With the differing opinions surrounding COVID and the protocols accompanying it, Garner said “basic courtesy,” “respect,” and “care” are fundamentals.
“We look at things like significant governmental actions, increase in hospital admissions particular in our area,” Garner said. “We look to see if there are a lot of absentees, occupancy of isolation halls, increase in positive symptomatic cases [and] look to see if there are particular clusters. With this we see: do we need to change anything?”