The university issued an email to all students Wednesday before the UC Berkeley football game about an outbreak of mumps at the California campus. Many USC students traveled to Berkeley for the Weekender trip and could have brought back this virus. The email warned students to be aware of the common means of mumps transmission: “sharing drinks, cigarettes, towels or being coughed on.”
It told students to wash their hands frequently, exercise caution in sharing anything and avoid close contact with those who are already ill.
The email sent from the university seems less than proactive. Rather than simply listing off suggestions many of us are fully aware of, USC should instead push health and cleanliness as it did in 2008 when a gastrointestinal bug went around campus.
In 2008, USC instituted many initiatives to ensure hygiene in response to the outbreak. The university installed hand sanitizers throughout campus for example. This action is more proactive than the recent email that simply rattles off information that we know.
We won’t know right away if mumps will affect students at USC, but we must ensure cleanliness and urge USC to prepare for a proper response if an outbreak does occur.
Students should use the sanitary wipes available in the fitness rooms to leave machines and weights a bit more sanitary for other users, for example.
These practices, however, should be implemented when students think they or the people around them are sick, especially because the symptoms of mumps don’t manifest until 12 to 25 days following exposure. Students should always exercise standard sanitary practices, in the case they might spread the disease unknowingly.
Overall, it is better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to health. A healthy lifestyle can prevent infections that could severely affect the student population like the gastrointestinal bug did in 2008.
Students should adhere to the golden rule when it comes to health — doing for others what they would like to be done for themselves. Though it might take some extra effort to leave a place as it was found, these efforts are appreciated and contribute to a healthier environment at USC.
Students, however, should not only be the ones to create a healthy environment.
USC is interested in students’ health and many resources exist for students to learn about and address many of the illnesses that might befall them. The new Roger and Michele Dedeaux Engemann Student Health Center, for example, is being built to better serve the large residential population of USC. Yet the email simply was not useful.
Students know to wash their hands and avoid coughing on each other. The university can help make USC a sanitary and healthy campus and provide proactive tips for prevention of infection rather than simply listing off well-known prevention methods.
Though it is not possible to entirely eliminate the danger of contracting mumps in general, the continued practice of standard sanitary regulations will help better prepare USC in the case of an outbreak.
Alan Wong is a sophomore majoring in East Asian languages and cultures. His column “Re-Defining USC” runs Tuesdays.