Despite University-wide mask policy, RAs not required to enforce masks in dorms


Kate Vanni

A sign reminds students to put their masks on before they enter Aug. 28.

Residential Advisors are no longer tasked with enforcing masking despite UVM’s indoor mask policy, said Gary Derr, VP of operations and public safety. 

Last year, RAs enforced the Green and Gold Promise in residential halls – as of now, pandemic safety agreement no longer applies, Derr said. No policy enforces sanctions against noncompliance with indoor masking requirements and masks are not required inside dorm rooms at all. 

“There’s nothing spelled out specifically,” Derr said of enforcing the mask mandate. “It’d be a ‘failure to comply policy’ violation because you’ve got a University policy requirement and you’re not complying with it.”

The state of Vermont has no current mask mandates, so UVM’s indoor mask requirement, announced July 16, goes beyond state regulations. However, the mask mandate doesn’t extend to dorm rooms, Derr said. 

Students are allowed to have maskless guests in their dorm rooms, and in general, there are no current sanctions for noncompliance with the indoor masking policy for other University buildings, Derr said. 

This decision goes directly against the CDC’s recommendations for masking in indoor spaces in Chittenden County regardless of vaccination status, based on the county’s high virus transmission rate

These CDC indoor masking recommendations were reinstated as a result of the rise of the more contagious Delta variant, according to their website. 

“If things are slipping through the cracks, they may have been slipping through the cracks before the pandemic,” Derr said in reference to possible large gatherings in dorms. “But if the RAs are doing rounds and they’re checking their floors in the halls, that type of stuff will be picked up.” 

Senior RA Keisha Bedor said Residential Life did not give RAs much clarity regarding their role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the residential halls. However, upon asking, she was told she did not have to enforce masking for her residents because noncompliance yields no consequences. 

“It’s really funny because [Residential Life] basically told us nothing,” Bedor said. “They didn’t mention COVID and regulations that we would have to enforce all through training, I had to personally go to one of my supervisors. We can ask people to put on their masks in the dorms, but we can’t force them to.” 

Despite Bedor’s worries, UVM believes students will comply with mask expectations based on performance from last year.

Based on how students responded last year, we have high confidence that students will largely comply with the requirement,” UVM Spokesperson Enrique Corredera stated in an Aug. 29. “Persistent noncompliance may be referred to the Center for Student Conduct for review.” 

Bedor said RA training is always confusing and thinks everything should have been planned and communicated more effectively.

“That fear is still there, that if COVID gets worse, shit’s gonna hit the fan again and we’ll all have to social distance and have room caps and wear masks everywhere,” she said. 

Corredera redirected the Cynic’s attempts to reach representatives of ResLife back to Gary Derr, VP of operations and public safety, for comment regarding ResLife matters. 

Derr said it is possible that the University may consider lifting the mask mandate altogether if the situation improves during the year.

There is not currently a master list of all University pandemic regulations, but additional information about masking can be found at