CLEVELAND, OH (August 25, 2020) – Cleveland State University launched a new student ambassador program in partnership with “Safe Campus CSU,” the university’s campaign to promote health and safety while on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 50 students have been hired and trained to uphold safety guidelines, while working to promote a community standard among fellow students, faculty and staff.
“We have chosen a ‘peer approach’ with the Student Safety Ambassador (SSA) program because peer influence is one of the biggest factors in choosing, changing and normalizing the behavior of students on a college campus,” explained Denise Keary, CSU Health and Wellness Coordinator. “By role-modeling, encouraging and supporting our new safety protocols, our hope is to influence these new standards of behavior in order to keep CSU safe and open.”
The student ambassadors lead by example, displaying how to correctly wear a mask and practice proper physical distancing on campus. They also assist with building entry and exit circulation, reinforce hygiene by directing students, faculty and staff to hand sanitizer stations across campus and distribute safety supplies, including masks and thermometers.
"Let's be on each other’s side and fight this pandemic together,” said student ambassador Rushi Prajapati, a graduate student in computer and information studies. “Even if we each try to help two or three people, in addition to wearing face masks and using sanitizer often, we will achieve the goal of overcoming this pandemic more quickly.”
Keary and the team at Health and Wellness trained the SSAs along with other campus partners including Anthony Traska, Chief of the University Police Department; Dr. Shannon Greybar Milliken, Vice Provost of Student Affairs & Dean of Students; and Alison Martin Scoufield, Associate Dean of Students, Community Standards & Advocacy. A large portion of the training focused on reviewing and acting out bystander intervention, de-escalation techniques, ways of role modeling and how to deal with resistance of safety measures.
“Qualities of our SSAs include a passion for keeping CSU safe, a call to do something ‘bigger than themselves,’ positive energy and the belief that they can institute change,” shared Keary.
CSU hopes to foster positive reinforcement of state and federal regulations concerning COVID-19, with students at the heart of this campaign. The ambassadors will continue to promote on-campus safety measures throughout the fall semester .