Posted by: lindseychristine | December 7, 2009

Fears of Swine Flu Gone Overboard at UConn?

This semester UConn has taken appropriate measures to prevent the spread of H1N1 on campus. With an increase in hand sanitizer available throughout campus, flu goodie bags distributed at the Department of Health Services, face masks being worn by patients at Health Services to fight the spread of germs, it’s safe to say that the university administration is trying hard to prevent this widespread flu.

UConn President Michael Hogan poses with students at Midnight Breakfast in December 2008

The annual UConn Midnight Breakfast, a popular and well-liked gathering by many for the past 10 years has been cancelled this year due to fears of H1N1 spreading.

“We didn’t want to increase the chances of students catching the flu just as they went into final exams, and Midnight Breakfast would be the perfect place to spread the virus around rapidly,” said UConn President Michael Hogan on his blog.

Is there such thing as going too far in Swine Flu prevention? Of course I can understand the concerns the university may have and their efforts to be extra cautious. However, I simply find it to be a foolish action taken to eliminate an event in which many look forward. I like everyone else certainly do not want to get sick anytime soon. However, this large event which draws close to 3,000 students each year, according to President Hogan’s blog post, is just as comparable to many other daily interactions which take place between students and staff at this big university.

Thousands of students eat at dining halls, ride the bus, use public computers, sit next to others in large lecture halls, and attend social events such as sporting events and concerts. It’s a given that students have come to accept the fact that they are constantly in close proximity to others each day and must be cautious about the spread of germs around them. Students could easily “catch” the flu simply from their daily routines on campus. I do not think a Midnight Breakfast should be cancelled because of flu fears.

Students truly get excited to attend this enjoyable event because it gives them a much needed break to de-stress, relax, and unwind with friends prior to the final exam rush. If there were other reasons behind the cancellation of this event such as lack of funding or volunteers I believe students would be more understanding to their reasoning.

UConn’s Student Newspaper, The Daily Campus, reported about the large university funding budget cuts approved by the Connecticut legislature in a September article. “Three million dollars will be taken from the fund this year, followed by another five million next year.”

It appears that funding could easily be a factor in breaking this popular tradition. Eliminating an event with a flu-like explanation seems to be a weak excuse personally. Just like UConn fans have been cramming into Gampel Pavillion for basketball games all semester, cramming into the Student Union for some eats at a stressful time should not be a tradition to place a stop upon. What do you think?

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