Confronting friends (or others) who are not following guidelines

After months of preparation, the St. Olaf campus is now open, albeit with some pretty strict guidelines. In these first few weeks, there has been much discussion over how to approach a friend, or even a stranger, who is violating the campus rules. Try some of these methods when approaching someone who may not be doing their part. 

Before you begin: Analyze the situation 

Moving back to campus has emphasized the fact that we are all socially starved and desperate to see our friends. Granted, this does not mean that you should ignore blatant disregard for the guidelines, but always make sure that the person or people you are going to confront are actually doing something wrong. It is honorable that many students want to valiantly defend themselves and others from harm’s way, but if a report is inaccurate or exaggerated, it can cause another student a lot of unneeded stress and negative attention. 


Method 1: The Minnesotan Maneuver

Sometimes a passive aggressive, gentle yet firm reminder is the best way to go. Let’s say you see someone with their mask below their nose outside the caf. Maintain your distance, but embrace your inner local Minnesotan and try something along these lines: “Hey! I like your mask! It’s supposed to go over your nose though,” or a “Before you go into the caf, can you fix your mask to keep us all safe?” It’s non-confrontational, and one even throws a quick compliment in to make the person less defensive. 


Method 2: The Window-Warner

Now that we are allowed out of our rooms, many students have been taking advantage of the extra space, fresh air and the vitamin D. If you do happen to see some too-close-for-comfort contact from your window, you can use your potential Ole Choir belting voice to ask if they are with their roommates. And if they aren’t, ask if they could wear their masks to make sure we don’t have to have stricter guidelines! 

Method 3: Taking the Higher-up Highway 

Confronting a friend can be terrifying, and confronting a stranger can be even more so! If you are someone who does not want to deal with the stress of a potential argument, you can always reach out to your RA or another person of authority to (accurately) describe the situation and either ask them for advice or ask them to reach out and send a reminder. 

Method 4: The Party-Goers Dilemma 

Having gatherings on and off campus is a really fun way to connect with friends and meet new people! Weekends now look a little different for those who want to meet up, so it might not hurt to remind those that are gathering before we are allowed that they won’t be able to do so if we are sent home. You could try something like this: “Hey guys, we all want to have fun, but the more we hang out now, the less we can hang out later if restrictions get stricter.” 

Returning to campus in the middle of a global pandemic requires cooperation from everyone, and the most important thing is to take care of yourself and keep you and your roommates safe. Don’t feel like you have to save the campus on your own, and think of the best way to approach each unique situation so we can have the most successful semester possible!