The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Students Shouldn’t Need Advertising to Avoid the Flu

2 min read

News Editor

With the number of H1N1 cases at Mary Washington now surpassing 70 and with the national number of cases rising, it seems like a no-brainer that students would take hand washing more seriously.

According to an article published last month by the Daily Nebraskan, they don’t.

The article cites a study by researchers from North Carolina State University and Kansas State University. They observed from a distance the use of hand sanitizer by students in a cafeteria of Ontario, Canada’s University of Guelph during a norovirus outbreak in 2006.

The researchers found that only 17 percent of students actually used the sanitizers, even though 83 percent of students polled later said they regularly practice recommended hand hygiene procedures.
Douglas Powell, one of the co-authors of the study and an associate professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at Kansas State University, said that the scientific jargon and polite euphemisms in hygienic safety ads are ineffective.

“It’s boring,” he said to the Daily Nebraskan. “‘Wash your damn hands, and this is why,’ is much better. Whether or not people actually do it is their choice, but then you can say, ‘At least I got their attention.’”

The H1N1 flu virus situation has steadily worsened at UMW. The Health Center has done its best to give instructions on how to avoid contracting the virus through a campus-wide email to UMW students.

University officials have also made sure that bottles of hand sanitizer are available in many public places around campus, including card-swiping stations at Seacobeck and at the checkout station in the Bookstore.

With all of this emphasis on health, and especially with the idea that hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent getting sick, health professionals and administrators shouldn’t have to attract students with advertising campaigns to see results.

Students at the post-secondary level of education should be smart enough to be able to read a small list of bulleted points instructing them on how to avoid getting sick, and thus how to subsequently avoid falling behind in classes, thwart feeling miserable for a week or two and prevent spreading the virus to other students.

If students really need for someone to stoop to tasteless language to grab their attention and make them concerned for their own health, perhaps they deserve what they might get.