Cougs Cancel COVID Champions Promote Safe Behavior From Student Perspective | Insider WSU
The day that WSU junior Taylor Ono returned home to Hawaii for spring break, the university announced it would complete the spring 2020 semester remotely.
“I couldn’t come back to Pullman to move my things from the sorority house where I lived because of COVID-19,” the creative writing student said, relying instead on friends to do it.
Ono faced a challenge in deciding to return to Pullman for the fall semester. She had previously signed a lease for an apartment and considered living away from home vital to her growth and development as an independent adult.
Ono eventually returned and, after hearing about the Cougs Cancel COVID campaign through his sorority’s group chat, signed up to be a part of it.
“I really knew there would be a lot of students coming back to Pullman with a pre-COVID-19 pre-COVID-19 mindset,” Ono said. “I want to be part of a community that is not stuck in this mindset, a community that is responsible and caring for others.”
Cougs Cancel COVID is a student-led effort to promote practices that keep members of the WSU community healthy. These practices include: wearing masks, keeping six feet physical distance, frequent hand washing, staying home when sick and attest when visiting the campus. The students participating in the campaign are known as the Cougs Cancel COVID Champions.
“We collectively have the ultimate goal of promoting harm reduction in our community at all times,” said Tony Collins, a Cougs Cancel COVID champion. “This task covers many different creative forms that we, as champions, need to create and disseminate messages that reinforce positive behaviors and educate members of our community.”
The 17 hard-working students achieve their goal by posting messages on social media, researching safe practices, and preparing presentations and graphics for students.
Ono and two of his comrades ventured to campus earlier this month to speak to people, from a safe distance and while wearing masks, about their thoughts on the response from the administration, the community and the COVID-19 students. The people they spoke to were particularly critical of the students.
“There is an ongoing stigma, but it’s important to get the message across that it’s not the young people versus the rest of the community, its responsible people versus irresponsible people,” Ono said.
In addition to combating this stigma, it’s critical that students hold each other accountable, said Nikolai Sublett, a second-year pre-medical neuroscience student involved in the campaign.
Sublett is the Vice President of Communications for the Residence Hall Association. He felt he needed to live on campus this fall to consolidate his academics.
“On campus you have places to go to study, but at home you are right next to your bed or a television,” he explained. “My mind is connected to where, when I’m home, I’m on vacation.”
Getting involved in Cougs Cancel COVID was all about promoting safety as a student, which can lead their peers to be more receptive. Cooperation and consistency are key messages Sublett strives to emphasize in their video messages.
“Individually you can’t cancel COVID, when we work together that’s where you’ll see progress,” he said. “We also need to stay consistent,” Sublett added. “COVID-19 is not gone until it is gone.”