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BERKELEY'S NEWS • JANUARY 31, 2023

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How to navigate difficult conversations about wearing masks

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CYNTHIA SHI | STAFF

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MARCH 10, 2022

As of March 7, 2022, UC Berkeley lifted the campuswide mask mandate. The campuswide reaction to this mandate lift has been divided, but beyond the controversy, the lifting of the mask mandate has another side effect: It causes many difficult conversations to be had between people with different opinions about masks. Although I don’t have any advice for how to solve these disputes, here are some tips for navigating them. 

Have conversations about mask preferences beforehand

Although the conversation may be slightly uncomfortable, it’s important to discuss mask preferences beforehand, whether it be before the hangout itself or just sending a quick text verifying that everyone will be comfortable wearing/not wearing a mask. This will save you a lot of stress in the long term and prevent tense situations. 

Speak out if you feel uncomfortable in a respectful way

If you feel uncomfortable with people not wearing a mask in crowded spaces, it might be better to talk to them privately about your discomfort. However, the most important aspect of this is respecting their choice and hearing their reasoning for masking up/not masking as well. In these cases, respect does go a long way on both sides. When mentioning it to them, make sure it is in a private space, whether that be pulling them aside or via text; opening up one-way communication makes it easier to compromise. 

Be willing to compromise

There are valid arguments on both sides of the mask mandate, and although personal decisions are important, it’s also important to have open communication and to compromise. Whether you don’t wear a mask or you do, it’s important to meet in the middle with those you don’t agree with. Everyone has a reason for wearing a mask, just as those do without one. So when having these conversations, be mindful and respectful of other boundaries, while upholding your own, and create a safe space where both are happy. 

If you do feel uncomfortable, propose alternatives

If you do feel uncomfortable in a masked group, it’s important to do what makes you feel most comfortable. This could range from removing yourself from the situation, proposing new alternatives to in-person hangouts, or moving the gathering outdoors. Either way, the people around you should respect your decision, just as you should respect theirs. 

I hope this helps to solve disputes and concerns about the mask mandates, as time passes, we will all find a medium that makes all of us comfortable. Until then, be sure to stay safe, and keep yourself open to communication and compromise.

Contact Isabella Carreno at [email protected].
LAST UPDATED

MARCH 13, 2022


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