Feb 032004
 
Authors: Christiana Nelson

While the 3,802 freshman students compose only 15 percent of the

total CSU student population, they account for a considerable

percentage of illness on campus, said Carole Diamond, a nurse

practitioner at Hartshorn Health Center.

“Two of the 10 people I saw this morning were freshmen,” Diamond

said. “I would guess that about 20 to 25 percent of the patients

that visit (Hartshorn Health Center) every day are freshmen.”

Many students attribute the occurrence of widespread sickness

during freshman year to the requirement of living on campus during

the first year of school.

Dedra Eichstedt, a freshman life science open option major,

believes that the close quarters of a residence hall initiate the

quick spread of illnesses.

“There’s not really much you can do in a small, enclosed space,”

said the freshman, who is living in Braiden Hall. “Especially, in

the winter when everything is closed in and there’s not a lot of

ventilation.”

Sickness spreading throughout the residence halls seems to

worsen with the winter months when there is a lack of ventilation,

agreed Bill Cole, director of Operations Management for Housing and

Dining Services.

“Sickness seems to happen in homes when you close them up in the

winter,” Cole said. “The same things happen in the residence halls

because in the winter you are not keeping windows open and

ventilating the room with outside air.”

Carrie Miller escapes to the library to do her homework and

tries to stay away from her room in Edwards Hall as much as

possible during the winter months because she has had personal

experience with the rapid spread of sickness in the residence

halls.

“I got the flu two weeks before Thanksgiving break,” said

Miller, a freshman business open option major. “I went to the

(Hartshorn) Health Center and I saw all the girls from my floor on

my way there or once I got there.”

Diamond said she occasionally notices a trend with freshman

sickness that could be linked to roommates and residence hall

members catching illnesses from each other.

“Some days a lot of people will come in with similar symptoms,”

Diamond said. “They’ll say ‘my roommate has the same symptoms and

they got an antibiotic,’ so they think that they should get an

antibiotic too.”

Casey Smith, a sophomore environmental studies major, said that

when one person on his floor in Edwards Hall becomes ill, it does

not take much longer for everyone else on the floor to contract the

illness.

“When the flu was going around, the whole hall, everybody was

sick,” Smith said. “You just try not to get near someone when they

are sick, avoid them as much as possible.”

Even Hidetoshi Isobe, a senior exchange student from Japan,

found his efforts of gargling and drinking green tea could not keep

him from becoming ill when other students in Ellis Hall were

sick.

“Many people were sick,” Isobe said. “I was sick, I couldn’t

stop coughing and the first day my fever was so high. I didn’t go

to the hospital so it lasted for two weeks.”

Despite the prevalence of student sicknesses during winter

months, Kathleen Young, assistant director of Operations Management

for Housing and Dining Services, said that the custodial staff

maintains a consistent cleaning routine in the residence halls

regardless of the season.

“We use the same cleaning disinfectants year round,” Young said.

“Bathrooms are cleaned every day in standard halls; suite halls are

cleaned once a week and public areas are cleaned every day.”

Yet, the rigorous cleaning schedule of the custodial staff can

only cure part of the problem, as students also have to take care

of themselves, Diamond said.

“I’ll ask [patients] when the last time they had anything to

drink was and they’ll say it was 7 o’clock the night before,”

Diamond said. “I’ll literally write them out a prescription that

says ‘Drink at least two liters of water’.”

Although illness spreads quickly in close quarters, such as

residence halls, Diamond said that students can take personal

action toward preventing the spread of illness.

“It goes back to day care stuff,” Diamond said. “Be good about

hand washing, get rid of your tissues, and cover your mouth when

you cough, get enough sleep, eat a good diet, eat breakfast, take a

multivitamin and drink at least two liters of water a day.”

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