Behind the scenes at #DoYourPartMason

Many people at George Mason University have contributed to the safe return to campus. Some, though, have flown under the radar.

Joyce French
Director, Office of Risk Management

French is a stickler for the rules. She also believes those at the top should set an example by following the policy.

Before Gov. Ralph Northam visited Mason’s Fairfax Campus on Sept. 22, University Events reviewed the event's logistics, which included the governor and other speakers removing their masks when speaking at the podium. The request was standard gubernatorial protocol. But since it did not fall within Mason’s event guidelines, the request went to Mason’s Event Exemption Committee, led by French.

For French, any such query is a non-starter, especially with Mason working so successfully to keep its COVID numbers down.

“If something went awry it would be a reputational nightmare that we didn’t follow our own policy or his policy,” French said. “It was in everybody’s best interest that I be persistent about face coverings for his visit, no exceptions.”

French got her message to Northam’s people through Rachel Lubar Quinn, Mason’s executive director of University Events, who reiterated to Northam that Mason’s mandatory face covering policy would apply even when speaking at a podium. Northam was happy to comply and throughout his visit wore the Mason face covering Lubar Quinn presented him. A few days later, Northam announced he tested positive for COVID-19.

French’s insistence likely kept attendees safe.

“At Mason we’re really trying to toe the line, and I’m adamant about it,” French said.