Bier Magazine
Home » features

Colleges Steer Clear from Beer to Prevent Swine Flu

Submitted by on October 7, 2009 – 11:00 AMNo Comment
Bookmark and Share

Long Island, New York – With Homecoming right around the corner and the swine flu epidemic still plastered across the media, colleges and universities are taking extra precautions this semester to prevent campus outbreaks and illnesses.

But even as hand sanitation stations are being installed and advisory flyers being stapled up on campus walls across the country, there is still one place most colleges are not looking: inside their students’ cups.

Homecoming events like parades and games almost always means packed streets and stadiums on chilly days and nights followed by huge parties of students packed into small frat houses or dorm rooms. These cold, crowded situations create ideal conditions for a virus to spread, especially if students are playing drinking games like beer pong, in which cups are frequently shared.

New York State schools like Hofstra University, Five Towns College, and Long Island University – C.W. Post have all taken the normal measures to avoid a serious outbreak and posted sections on preventing the spread of the flu on their respective websites. However, none of the schools has discussed the risks of drinking and sharing cups with its students this semester.

Even other colleges in New York State haven’t done enough to prevent the swine flu from spreading. “Iona [College] took precautions to put up flyers and install Purell everywhere you look, however they have not made the connection to beer and sharing and games to swine flu,” Iona College’s Resident Advisor R.C. Stabile, said.

School officials may have missed the cup, but some students seem to have caught on.  “People have switched over to ‘water cup’ from what I notice,” Stabile said.  “They play with water and when a ball gets in the cup they drink from their own beer cup.”

Some students have noticed a difference in the actions of their peers, but still do not seem altogether concerned.  “I would definitely say people start off the night sharing fewer drinks than they would have,” Maggie Fatsis, a junior at the University of Delaware, said. “But drunk people are drunk people, and we all share everything in the end anyway.”

Colleges are not alone in facing the challenge of raising swine flu awareness. Cheryll Van Tuyle, a Public Health Sanitarian of the Suffolk County Department of Health, said the department is “really pushing people to get vaccinated,” but has made no changes to their Food Handler certification courses regarding the virus or its prevention. “Swine Flu is an airborne virus,” said Van Tuyle, “so all regular sanitation techniques would apply.”

The Department of Health is no more worried about the spread of the virus through beer consumption than its spread through any other source of nourishment, said Van Tuyle. Passing a cup of beer to a friend would be just as risky passing a plate of food or a napkin.

tipXavier University of Cincinnati, Ohio has taken action a little further than most New York colleges.  “We get weekly notices about how to protect yourself and inside every classroom and bathroom there is hand sanitizer, tissues and a flyer telling you how to stay healthy,” Kate Phillips, a senior leader on XU‘s cross country track team, said.

Xavier has also taken the liberty to actually mention drinking.  “They [School Officials] mentioned to not share drinks, but alcohol was not specified,” said Phillips.

Phillips also stated that most athletes at Xavier know better than risk their health during homecoming season. “We have too much to do and don’t have the time to waste being sick,” she said.  “I honestly don’t think it will affect homecoming.”