Ginn Library sees an uptick in COVID-19 policy violations

Ginn Library, where there has been an increase in patrons breaking mask guidelines, is pictured. Zoe Garderet / The Tufts Daily
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Students studying at Edwin Ginn Library have been increasingly violating Tufts’ COVID-19 policies. Director of Ginn Library and Information Technology at the Fletcher School Cyndi Rubino said that eating and not wearing masks in the library puts the community at risk.

“The libraries … are not designated eating areas,” Rubino wrote in an email to the Daily. “All of us want to continue to work and operate in person. We also want to keep our colleagues and families safe. We feel that wearing a mask indoors is a small price to pay for safety of our communities- at Tufts, locally and at home.”

Graduate student Marina Rueda-Garcia, who works at Ginn, spoke about the staff’s responsibilities to enforce COVID-19 guidelines.

“My experience at the library has been pretty positive, but I know some other student workers have had to enforce the rules more because of patrons not complying,” Rueda-Garcia wrote in an email to the Daily. 

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Another student staff member, senior Johnathan O’Neal, believes that some students are ready to move to pre-COVID-19 rules faster than the university.

“Just as there are students who think things are moving towards normalcy too fast, there are also students who believe things are moving too slow,” O’Neal wrote in an email to the Daily. “This makes some students eager to get back to pre covid rules quicker than Tufts would like and as a result it creates a discrepancy of the rules in place versus the rules some students want to follow.”

Rubino explained that Ginn has long struggled to distinguish its rules from those of the other libraries on campus.  

“The vibe at Ginn is different than our sister library, Tisch Library,” Rubino said. “Ginn’s environment has been designed for a graduate and PhD population; it is a quiet, serious environment and we have never allowed eating. Students from other degree programs may not realize the differences between the two libraries and as a result do not follow the rules in Ginn.” 

The university COVID-19 policies allow students to remove their masks while eating in designated areas. However, eating is not allowed in Ginn Library, and all patrons are required to wear their masks at all times.

Rueda-Garcia explained the policy followed by student workers when they see a patron violating these rules. 

“We do staff walk-throughs and if anyone is not following the rules they get a warning, to which patrons are usually responsive, and they understand their part in keeping everyone safe,” Rueda-Garcia said. “However, if we have to warn them a second time, we are instructed to ask them to leave the library.”

Rubino explained that Ginn staff members prefer not to take these measures.

“Please know that it is our mission to serve students, faculty and staff and to build community in our libraries,” Rubino said. “It is equally disturbing and unsettling for Ginn staff when we need to ask someone to leave for not following Tufts COVID-19 policies.”

According to Rubino, feedback from the Fletcher community has often discussed restricting Ginn to graduate students.

“We get frequent requests to turn Ginn Library into a Fletcher-only space. This has less to do with patrons not following rules and more to do with lack of dedicated space for Fletcher students,” Rubino said. “We foster an inclusive and welcoming environment at Ginn for all Tufts community members, while trying to meet the needs of the Fletcher population.”

O’Neal said that the library should remain open to everyone who follows the COVID-19 guidelines.

“We would love for Ginn to be the quiet and inclusive study place that it is so well known for,” O’Neal said. “However, these violations are inhibiting that. While we have not gotten to the point of restricting access to the library, we hope everyone feels safe in the library and as a result [we] are sending employees on walk-throughs and asking violators to leave the library.”

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