“Protect the Pack” is Northeastern’s new mantra for encouraging healthy behaviors throughout the university community. A campaign titled the same will launch soon on the university’s campuses, and across its digital platforms.
The campaign is informed by the notion that staying healthy is a group effort that will require everyone to do their part. Students are especially ready to lead by example and challenge others to do the same.
In university-led focus groups during the planning of the campaign, students have expressed their eagerness to adopt and enforce healthy practices—hand washing, mask wearing, healthy distancing, and testing—if it means they can return to their university community, one of the most important elements of a college experience.
Parents in similar focus groups have shared that they’re a little disappointed they can’t go inside the residence halls to help move students in, but understand the university’s reasoning.
As an added health and safety measure, only students will be allowed to enter residence halls.
Anyone else helping them move in will need to stay within the area where they unload their vehicles. At that point, university employees will help the students move into their rooms.
Overall, parents in the focus groups have said they’re thankful that students will have the opportunity to return to campus.
“We know from surveys that overwhelmingly, students want to be back on campus this fall,” says Rebecca Anzuoni, vice president for marketing.
“We need our entire community engaged in some simple safety requirements, and we need students to lead the charge by reminding themselves and each other of why that’s important,” she says.
One of the ways the university intends to foster this shared sense of responsibility is through the indoor and outdoor messaging on campus. Signs around campus will remind students, faculty and staff to get tested regularly, wear their masks, and wash their hands.
Northeastern’s testing program and quarantine guidelines are two important measures the university has announced in recent days to promote a safe and healthy environment for students, faculty, staff and the surrounding communities in the Boston area. Students returning to the Boston campus will be tested three times before they are able to attend class and participate in campus activities.
Additionally, planning for the fall reopening includes rigorous cleaning, sanitation and ventilation protocols to support clean spaces and a healthy airflow across academic and administrative buildings.
The university wants to create a space that feels welcoming, despite the unusual circumstances.
“We want to keep it light and clever while getting the message across,” says Anzuoni about the planned new sign next to “A Man with a Cat Named Yitz,” the statue of a man sitting a little too close to a cat outside of Shillman Hall, which reads: Keep 6’ Apart (Cats Exempt).
Additionally, Northeastern will showcase student, faculty, and staff perspectives by providing a platform for all community members to share videos and photos on social media that show why and how they practice healthy behaviors, and to encourage and inspire others to do the same.
“Students told us they look to social media for news about the university and to talk to each other,” says Meghan Donovan, director of social media.
“We want to provide them with information and examples about how to practice healthy behaviors, and also give them tools to help them share that message with others,” she says.
Northeastern also intends to host a contest for students to create their own “Protect the Pack” designs.
Select student designs will be featured on masks, stickers and other items that the university will help produce. Contest winners will also get to feature their designs on elevator doors around campus.
The university wants to encourage healthy behaviors “in rewarding ways” Anzuoni says. “A student might be walking around on campus wearing a mask one day and win a gift card to a coffee shop.”
Another important aspect of maintaining campus health is providing the community with timely information about COVID-19 and updates on the Northeastern’s policies. The university’s award-winning official news organization, News@Northeastern, has been the main source of information including university announcements about travel, testing, and quarantine, and it has been covering the latest findings from the university’s own researchers about the global impact of the pandemic.
The university’s comprehensive COVID-19 website is frequently updated with the latest information, frequently asked questions, and important resources for students, faculty and staff.
But ultimately, in order for this to work, students, faculty, and staff need to work collectively and step up to the responsibilities.
“Northeastern is one community,” Anzuoni says. “It’s ours to keep safe.”