Protecting the ‘Bobcat Bubble’

Quinnipiac students work with faculty to promote public health on campus

Ashley Pelletier, Associate Arts and Life Editor

If you need advice on social distancing practices, such as staying six feet apart, wearing masks and the importance of public health, there’s a new group at Quinnipiac University ready to help.

The QU Peer Health Ambassadors is a group of students across the schools of nursing, medicine and health sciences who are working closely with faculty members and the COVID-19 Task Force to encourage students to follow social distancing guidelines and keep the community safe.

Graphic By Mike Clement

“Our responsibilities include promoting a safe environment, presenting ideas and student concerns to administration and being a resource for all things (COVID-19) for students, their families, faculty and staff,” said Charles Sharkey, a senior nursing major and student ambassador.

According to fitness, leisure and wellness professor Debora Lavigne, the group formed in early August, as the university administration solidified plans to return to campus. Around 60 students showed interest in being an ambassador.

“The idea was bringing together different leaders in all of the programs within health sciences, the medical school and the nursing school from the grad level all the way through undergrad,” Lavigne said.

Since the formation, the group has worked closely with administration to ensure that the plans made in regard to returning to campus had the student population’s approval.

“The administration really feels the connection between (itself and the ambassadors) can really be beneficial in getting the word out and keeping the campus open,” Lavigne said. “That’s the goal — we all want to be here. So that’s the main goal of working together on that, right? To make sure we make it to the end of the semester.”

On Sept. 9, the ambassadors, the Student Government Association (SGA) and the COVID-19 Task Force sent an email to students regarding seating in public spaces such as dining halls. Sharkey said they initiated the removal of these chairs to help students “understand that COVID-19 is still real.”

“Removing these chairs is a small, but important step,” the email stated. “Another step we can all take is to limit trips home, or elsewhere beyond the community, on weekends. We know this is a big ask, but we’ve achieved a huge milestone in starting off the semester with zero positive cases on campus. Help us ‘protect the Bobcat Bubble’ and limit any opportunity for the virus to be brought back to our campuses.”

Since that email was sent out, there has been one confirmed COVID-19 case in the Quinnipiac community, a non-residential commuter student.

The Peer Health Ambassadors Instagram account, @quhealthambassadors, is meant to be a resource for Quinnipiac students by posting tips to ensure students are staying safe in their respective communities.

The group hopes to remain a positive influence on the community, encouraging people to follow COVID-19 guidelines as opposed to discouraging or even shaming people from breaking the rules. Olivia Rua, a senior health studies major, emphasized the importance of this positivity in the effort to stay at Quinnipiac.

“We want to be educating everyone on the implementation, refreshing everyone’s memory and promoting cooperation of everything we all need to do to stay on campus and to stay safe and to have a successful semester,” Rua said.