When Ian Koneigsknef was diagnosed with a probable case of H1N1 and urged to leave behind his room in Myles Standish Hall in order to ride out his illness in quarantine on the second floor of Danielsen Hall, his story corroborated Thursday’s Daily Free Press article regarding the mysterious activity. And according to a Daily Free Press interview with Koneseigsknef’s mother, Lynn, her son was not treated very warmly. His room in Danielsen didn’t even come equipped with a cup to fill with water so Koneseignknef could take fever medication. And his ‘flu buddies’ turned out to be friends with busy class schedules who had no time to visit him to bring him meals, causing Koneigsknef to have to rely on the package of snacks and drinks that his mother overnighted.
Both Koneigsknef and his mother agreed’ though they don’t believe BU executed the flu plan very well, the fundamentals of the plan are legitimate. That being said, BU health administration needs to revise their Swine Flu protocol to ensure that all sick students are isolated in a safe, comfortable way, and that all surrounding students are informed. Shutting students into Danielsen with nothing but a facemask is not the way a major research university should be treating the students who contribute to its intellectual and monetary livelihood.
And due to Koneigsknef’s less-than-sparkling reports of his treatment by BU health and residence staff during the period of his illness, his friends may be less likely to report any case flu-like symptoms to their own RAs. If this becomes a domino effect, no students will want anyone to find out they’re sick, in fear of being isolated and ignored, and the flu could become far more widespread on campus by default. By that point, not even isolation will be an option.
No college or university, whether large or small, urban or rural should be able to operate without a sound, tested and proven pandemic illnesses plan. And though the campus-wide email sent by Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore and Student Health Services Director David McBride urges students that ‘We will get through this difficult time with caring and support from one another,’ it doesn’t seem viable to rely on that sentiment and that alone. Sick students need resources and care to recover. Healthy students need informational updates and more than just a simple email and a healthy habits checklist to maintain good health. And while it’s the student’s responsibility to be on guard against the flu, it’s the university’s responsibility to properly serve their students in whatever way they need to, especially if they urge isolation. If these responsibilities cannot be met, the flu season ‘- vaccine notwithstanding ‘- may be even more feverish than predicted.