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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

EDITORIAL: ‘Go home’ is not a real plan

Published: September 11, 2009
Section: Front Page

Last Friday, Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer sent out a campus-wide e-mail outlining Brandeis’ H1N1 emergency plan. The crux of the plan was to have students who live in driving distance return home if they became ill and remain there for the duration of their illness.

Sawyer’s request that students think about where they might go to wait out the flu is pointless. For many of us, our answer is nowhere. And after having watched Emory University in Atlanta battle an H1N1 outbreak, it is clear that “go home” is not a viable plan.

This plan, if it was intended to reassure the student body that all is well, is impotent. Not only does it fail to provide any real reassurance to students who live oceans away, but it also shifts the burden onto students’ families or roommates to risk illness while caring for someone with the flu.

Students who live across the country or across the world, if they cannot find a kindly friend’s family to impose on, will find themselves relegated to university quarantine. Off campus students, though they have access to the university health services, are left out in the cold. Sawyer’s only advice to them is ‘go home,’ and ‘talk to your roommates.’ Though no one would voluntarily choose quarantine in Charles River, the option should be open for students who do not normally lay their heads in campus housing.

Along with offering a less than stellar plan of action, the university has failed to address swine flu rumors. At least one student with a suspected case of H1N1 has already gone home though university and health center officials have refused to confirm this fact. It is understandable that they do not want to create panic but informing students that the university has successfully followed through with its outlined plan would do much to inspire confidence in a community of students whose parents would rather not hear that their children’s campus is gripped by swine flu.