Returning to campus: your social distancing guide
By now, you’ve probably heard the news – we’re reactivating campus! But while we’re very excited to welcome everyone back (and we know you’re excited to be reunited with your Uni Bros HSPs), now’s the time to start thinking about social distancing etiquette.
While university learning activities are ‘essential gatherings’ and are exempt from some social distancing requirements, we're asking all students and staff on campus to maintain the 1.5m distance wherever it's possible.
To make things easier for you, we’re following guidelines similar to those around Respect.Now.Always and Consent Matters, which you all know like the back of your hand (if not, maybe it’s time for a refresher). Here’s your guide, which (just like consent) is all about setting your personal boundaries and respecting those of others!
As with any form of consent, be clear about your level of comfort, and don’t be afraid to (respectfully) speak up if classmates forget to keep their distance.
For example, if someone gets too close, you can say ‘hey, let’s make sure we’re doing our socially distancing’ and step back. Or, when reuniting with your uni friends after iso, try saying 'virtual hug!’ (and awkwardly hugging the empty space in front of you). Not your style? Just go straight for the footshake!
We’ve introduced plenty of physical distancing and hygiene measures to minimise risk, such as signs that highlight room capacity, and floor markings reminding people to stay 1.5 metres apart where possible. But all these are useless if you don’t take responsibility! Make sure you pay attention, make good decisions and read and follow signs.
For example, if you want to take a lift that already has people in it, check before you invite yourself in – it’s that simple. The same goes when you’re using campus facilities. Be respectful and keep a safe distance in common areas like kitchens, bathrooms and the food court. And, speaking of bathrooms, make sure you’re following handwashing guidelines – there are also detailed signs to remind you what to do!
Pay attention to body language and verbal cues.
Sometimes your classmates won't be comfortable directly asking you to move. So, make sure you keep an eye out for them turning away, crossing their arms, or backing away from you.
Obviously, this isn’t your invitation to get closer and inspect their face. Instead, acknowledge their discomfort, remove the awkwardness and politely take a few steps back. Don’t assume everyone has the same comfort level as you!
If you’re not sure – play it safe.
Is your instinct telling you someone’s uncomfortable? Err on the side of caution and be pre-emptive and ask what they want to do or suggest something else. For example, you can say, 'Do you want to go first into the lift?' or 'Why don’t we manage this by (insert practical and respectful suggestion)?'
Check your behaviour, and ask yourself if you’re comfortable every time and for every activity. Because, like consent, just because you’ve said yes before doesn’t mean you have to say yes again.
We all have a part to play in UTS’s ongoing commitment to community safety. We know social distancing is all a bit awkward, but let’s all do our bit to respect ourselves, and each other. You got this.