The contact bands, also known as distancing bands, implemented at the beginning of this semester are both hated and loved by the student body. Some say the bands are a great way to respect each other's space. Some say the bands aren’t really doing anything, and many times they aren’t even taken seriously. While the contact bands were the start of a good idea, we believe University officials could have received more support from students with better implementation and by promoting more student involvement in the initiative.
We first saw the bands on SFA social media, and we learned that there was a bowl in the Steen library where you could pick up your own band; however, we must acknowledge that not everyone is going to see those posts, and with our busy schedules, not everyone will remember to go to the library to pick up a silicone band. It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that we even noticed there was also a bowl at the front desk of the student center. While there is logic to the placement of the bowls, distribution could have been better. People already hand out fliers in the plaza. Why not have a few selected people or student groups hand out the bands, announcing them to students passing by?
But even then, we get back to the bands themselves. Why silicone bands? We’re not actively looking at people’s wrists, so oftentimes the bands go unnoticed. And on top of that, they aren’t environmentally friendly. Some of our editors have noticed bands discarded in the grass or in parking lots. There are many other items that could have been chosen with a less negative impact to the environment, like stickers or badges. We even thought different colored lanyards would have been the optimal choice. Lanyards go around your neck, so they’re immediately visible; your keys go on a lanyard, so you’re less likely to leave home without it; and even after the pandemic is over, it is an item that you will still be able to use.
While this is an idea proposed by us, if more student groups would have had the opportunity to get involved, we are certain various ideas could have been put on the table. A competition of sorts could have been created for student organizations to participate and develop a plan for this initiative, an initiative that would be funded by the University but would ultimately be proposed by the students, for the students. Even a simple poll posted to social media asking students for their opinion could have been made to get input from students, rather than just letting University officials decide what we would want to wear. Perhaps the initiative began during the summer when students were away, but an effort to reach out could have been made through emails and social media.
We understand that maybe the silicone bands were the cheapest option for the University, given the recent issues with the budget; however, there is no rationale for spending money on something that many students won’t even use or take seriously. The silicone bands remind us of the ones we acquired throughout grade school that many ultimately discarded. More practical items that also happen to communicate distancing preferences would be more appreciated.
This might seem like a small concern to some people, but it becomes big when the University spends money for something that receives negative responses from a significant portion of the student body. And that’s not even taking into account the environmental impact of discarded wristbands. We urge University officials to better implement this initiative and, in the future, reach out to more students and consider their opinion over issues that concern them.