Now that the swine flu precautionary measures have been scaled back, students can finally feel a breath of relief as things return back to normal – just in time for finals. Perhaps the precautions taken these past few weeks to protect our immune systems from Amherst’s infected students may have been drastic. And though many felt that the posters reminding us to wash our hands and dining hall changes were not necessary to encourage us to practice caution, consider the backlash if the virus infected any students, faculty or staff without any precautionary actions on the part of the College. As inefficient and time-consuming as these practices may have been, the College was right in its intuition to try to protect the Williams community as best they can.
Changes to dining halls, which became more crowded as a result of the swine flu measures, added to inefficiency and frustration. There was a considerable amount of additional time and effort spent in the dining process, but while the temporary precautions forced us to alter our routines, consider the following questions: How many times have you walked from class to a dining hall and eaten without washing your hands? How many times have you stood behind a coughing person in line? Have you ever sat near a sneezing sick person during a meal? How often do you use the public computers in Paresky, Sawyer or Schow?
Though many of us may find comfort in the fact that we do wash our hands often and try to use tissues, not our elbows, when we sneeze, the main issue was not the sanitizer nor the lowering of the glass paneling to protect the food (“spitguards,” as I like to call them), but the disturbance of our daily routines during a season when time is the least expendable resource. Now that the swine flu scare is over and dining halls have returned to their normal operating procedure, we can all feel relieved that at least one cause of stress before exams is no longer present.
Lauren Zachary ’12