Sunday, October 19, 2014


I'll tell you when
to panic.
I just received what I'm pretty sure is the third university-wide email about Ebola in the last two months.  This is not completely ridiculous; my university is located in a major metropolitan area with multiple international airports and a regular flow of travelers to and from all corners of the world, and some of our students come from West Africa (though most of them haven't been back in a while). We also have a number of students who are employed in various capacities in local hospitals, which, given what we've learned so far about the spread of the disease in the U.S., may be a more plausible source of possible infection. 

Still, I'm not sure I really feel the need to receive emails from the president and the provost on the subject, until and unless there's a case diagnosed in someone with some connection to the university population.  The most recent letter started by assuring us that there are no known cases on campus, then spent several paragraphs  paraphrasing information from the CDC, which is sensible and responsible, but also sort of underlines that there's nothing university-specific to say.  The title of the email -- "[University] monitoring spread of Ebola" -- also seemed a bit alarmist, given that Ebola hasn't, as I write this, spread in the U.S. beyond the population associated with a single hospital (a long long way from us).   

I'm wondering how other institutions are handling the Ebola situation (or non-situation, as the case mostly is).  So far, I've only heard about Navarro College, which seems to have way overreacted, then  sort of apologized. Has your institution felt the need to tell you that there are no Ebola cases on campus, but that they're watching the situation carefully?  Does the institutional reaction (if any) seem to bear any logical relationship to the kind of institution, nature of the student body, location, etc.?  Do your students seem worried about, or even aware of, the disease? 


  1. Nah. My students have it covered. I've been told by more than a few students that ebola is a sexually transmitted disease. I have to say that is really good to know. I'll make sure to avoid having sex with anyone displaying any of these ebola symptoms: Fever
    Severe headache
    Muscle pain
    Abdominal (stomach) pain
    Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)

  2. The virus *is* transmitted in semen. Not exclusively.
    But your symptom list could describe a number of college students on a Saturday night...

  3. My students are making jokes about it, which means they're feeling insecure, but not enough to think it's a big deal. However, we did get a long and detailed email about meningitis on campus and that seemed more appropriate than an ebola one. I suppose the school just wants to cover its ass by sending out such "warnings."

  4. I have not gotten a single email from either of my schools. I have had students ask me questions about it, but I don't think anyone seems worried. I do have some students from Africa, but I am not sure which country was their original home. I am worried more about Africans being profiled as having Ebola by an uneducated population!

  5. Thanks for the graphic, RGM (or whoever). Very appropriate!

    My students also seem to be joking a bit (which, yes, suggests mild anxiety). So far, the thing that has struck me most (other than the series of emails from the president and provost) is that student groups don't seem to be running the fundraisers that seem to follow every natural disaster. There are plenty of fundraisers going on, but none seem to have anything to do with Ebola. For some reason (probably a variety of reasons), this crisis isn't eliciting the same sort of response as, say, the earthquake in Haiti. Mind you, I'm not sure that holding a fundraiser is, in fact, the appropriate response to every problem (which sometimes seems to be what students these days think; well, that and/or activities to "raise awareness"), but the lack of recourse to the ingrained response is interesting, and noticeable.

  6. Academic Madame LibrarianOctober 21, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    No response at all at my college. But we are in a rural area far from any cases at the moment...