This WORD Reporter Does Not Feel Safe Without Her Mask

Before Coronavirus Disease 2019, AKA COVID-19, started ravaging the Big Apple like a M8 Bazooka gone wild.

Third-floor student cafeteria. Recently taken picture by Nyya Collins.

“When I first started this semester, I was still in break mode,” said Milan Dupuy, a junior and East New York, Brooklyn, resident in a phone interview. “School has started so crunch time is now.”

Dupuy, a junior who majors in media studies with a concentration in journalism and minors in French, was one of several students interviewed for an assignment about their academic comings and goings the early weeks of the semester – especially in light that Hunter did not schedule classes on campus for two years because of the Pandemic.

COVID-19 was first reported in New York after the outbreak of the virus. According to data of the 2020 Census Bureau, 320,000 residents fled New York City in 2020. When the campus opened this year, people were still required to wear masks and show proof of vaccination.

COVID-19 is still a factor, yet, many can be seen not wearing masks in the subways as required. NYC suspended its “Key to NYC” requirements March 7 – meaning that proof of vaccination would no longer be mandatory for indoor commercial spaces including restaurants, fitness facilities and entertainment venues.

In a press release, CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodriguez said students were no longer required to wear masks on campuses though it’s rare to see Hunter students without masks.

Downtown No. 6 IRT stop at Hunter. Picture by Nyya Collins

New York Post reporter David Meyer, in an article headlined “Subway safety essential for NYC comeback officials say,” wrote, “The Big Apple’s skyrocketing crime rate may stymie its attempt to claw back economically from the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders said Sunday — as they underscored the importance of subway safety.”

There have been voluminous news reports of an increase in violence and crime, such as armed robberies, stabbings and shootings, fatal and otherwise, on the streets and in the subways, the latter the major transportation option for many commuting students.

Is it not safe to opine that students traveling to Hunter’s main campus at 68th Street and Lexington Avenue should be on special lookout for dangers?

On campus, students navigate crowded hallways, elevators, lounge areas and the bridges connecting the West, East, and North buildings. There is no state of fear on this campus that this reporter is aware of though Hunter has history of clashes and fights in the nearby streets and by campus invasions by students from other campuses. A few years ago, Hunter was headline news because of a “perp” who had been stalking a female student on a 6 Train to campus managed to evade security measures to follow her right on campus. Also, the President’s Office was once taken over by students but that incident happened several years ago. Click here for more info.

 Once Upon a Time: A Groping Attack at Hunter

Reporting Crime at Hunter

The World Cup Cafe. Picture by Nyya Collins.

This reporter does not feel safe without her mask on.  And if I’m eating food in the third-floor student cafeteria or other areas where students congregate,  I try to maintain a 6-foot distance. 

“Obviously the Pandemic is not over,” said Arvind Dev, 22, a Macaulay College Honor’s Student who majors in bioinformatics and minors in journalism. “There’s a lot less pressure from last year until now,” he said in an interview in a pizzeria near the campus. His home is in Staten Island.

The shutdown still reverberates. Food is not served in the third-floor student cafeteria. Temperamental elevator service as wells as temperamental escalators have been issues for several years and seem worse. There are times when one bank of elevators in the North building can be out of service the whole day. Dozens of students and faculty regularly squeeze into an elevator at one time in spite of signs suggesting only 5 should be riding so as to be socially distanced.

Dana Kaldy, 21, of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, a senior majoring in social psychology and minoring in music and journalism, said in a campus interview that there are times that hallways can become so crowded, that she sometimes has had to be ready to squeeze at a moment’s notice to get to a campus destination.


Nyya Collins can be reached at