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BC Dining, UHS Communicated Poorly With Students Amid Flu Outbreak

After about a week of rumors, University Health Services (UHS) emailed the student body to assure the Boston College community that there were no confirmed cases of norovirus on campus.

The email was a week too late to completely quell notions of this specific illness. BC Dining had taken what it called “precautionary steps” against the flu-like symptoms experienced by some students. The measures included closing the self-serve salad bar and went so far as to individually wrap bananas, oranges, cookies, and single slices of bread in plastic. BC Dining is also offering “Flu-Buddy Packs,” which include ramen noodle chicken soup, saltines, bottles of SmartWater and Powerade, and hand sanitizer.

It was not until after BC Dining had pulled its self-service items that director of UHS Tom Nary sent an email denying the rumor. In order to avoid rampant and understandably concerning misconceptions, BC must better communicate within its departments and with the student body. BC Dining should have coordinated a response quicker with UHS, and UHS should have sent out an email addressing student illnesses on campus before BC Dining pulled the items in order to prevent unnecessary gossip.

The student body could also have acted in better faith. Spreading unfounded rumors only creates more stress for peers and, in this case, BC Dining employees.

The last time BC Dining took such drastic steps was in 2015, when there actually was a norovirus outbreak that infected 120 students. It is logical to conclude that current students would at least suspect that a disease of similar magnitude could be present on campus.

Rumors were so rampant that even the meme page was peppered with norovirus content, which only further served to perpetuate the same gossip.

BC must more effectively communicate with the student body if it wishes to stop rumors such as these. There is no reason that the student body should have been so worried—something that, to a degree, would have been preventable had BC better communicated.

February 19, 2019