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Sac State President Calls For Continued Indoor Masking After Photos Show Him Defying Statewide Mandate

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — There is no mask mea culpa from Sacramento State President Robert Nelson.

As he told students and staff they need to continue wearing masks indoors on campus, photos show him wearing no mask while accepting the "Sacramentan of the Year" award at an indoor banquet just last week, while statewide indoor mask rules were in place.

Snapshots of a Sacramento Metro Chamber event show Sacramento State President Robert Nelson unmasked, posing for pictures in large groups at the dinner.

Sacramento City Council Member Eric Guerra was the only guest at the event pictured wearing a mask.

The dinner was February 11. On February 15, Nelson sent a campus-wide email reading "Sacramento State will continue to require individuals to wear face coverings in all indoor spaces, until further notice."

The president's direction came despite the photos showing him in a public setting indoors and without one.

"It could be abject hypocrisy but it could also just be them doing what the rest of us are doing," Sac State student Rex Dimmeny said.

President Nelson would not go on camera for an interview but approved a response from the university defending his decision to go unmasked at the gala, reading, in part:

"Except during the meal, while speaking from the stage, photo sessions and other brief interactions, attendees also wore face coverings."

Sacramento public relations expert Doug Elmets called Nelson's move similar to Gov. Gavin Newsom's French Laundry gaffe — one the governor, after being caught on camera, admitted was a mistake.

"Leaders need to lead by example, and that doesn't exclude the President of Sac State," Elmets said. "You need to lead by example, otherwise you undermine your own edict, your own message, and you make your message really hollow."

Besides Sac state, UC Davis and CSU Stanislaus campuses are also maintaining their indoor mask mandates despite the statewide lifting of the indoor mask restrictions.

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