August 18 Message from the President: Keeping Campus Open Is Everyone's Responsibility

Dear Mason Students:

Fairfax, Virginia and Chapel Hill, North Carolina have a lot in common. They are suburban college towns with large university campuses. And both have had stable COVID conditions. 

Until this week, both universities – George Mason University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – were cautiously reopening their campuses for the fall semester.

UNC reversed course on Monday because of a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases among their students. Students organized several gatherings in violation of health and safety distancing guidelines, and as a result, many of them got sick. So, now all courses will have to be taught online. UNC made national headlines, and caused many people to ask whether such a reversal could happen here at Mason.

As of today, my answer is: It’s now up to all of us.

Over the summer, Mason staff have done everything they can to prepare for the semester. They have altered our buildings to make them safer, moved the majority of our courses online, adopted a number of testing and health requirements that we all must follow every day before stepping onto campus. They put it all into our multimedia, our Safe Return to Campus plan and our #SafeReturnMason social media campaign.

Now, it’s up to the rest of us. 

If you follow the established health and safety guidelines, we are confident that we can maintain our campuses in their current configuration this fall, assuming regional health conditions allow for it.

You have accountability beyond your own health to follow the COVID-19 guidelines.

As Mason Patriots, we must all embrace the responsibility we have to fellow students, faculty, staff, and community neighbors with whom we will come into contact. Please – do your part to keep our campuses open safely and responsibly, and to stop the spread of this terrible virus.

So, socialize with your classmates, but do so responsibly in very small groups. Stay away from large gatherings, especially indoors. Always wear your mask. Keep your distance from others. Keep your hands clean. Let us know if you don’t feel well, and keep away from others when you do feel sick. Get tested.

Let’s all do the right thing. Mason’s story does not have to be UNC’s story. But it’s up to each of us. Let’s be safe this semester and get through to December to give ourselves something to celebrate at the end of the year.

Let’s do this, Patriots!


Gregory Washington