Over the past couple of weeks, Nurse Practitioner and Associate Director of Health Services Kim Cullers has sent two Student-Info emails regarding a recent outbreak of influenza on campus, urging students to self-isolate. I received her first email at an ideal time: I was on day two of a bout with the flu, deliberating between a visit to the Health Center and getting some work done in my favorite study space, Mod B. Upon receiving Cullers’ email, I retreated to my room, hoping to protect my pals and study-mates from the sickness.
It was not to be. I spent the next five days mostly in the bed of my single, using a whole roll of toilet paper instead of tissues and finishing off three rounds of DayQuil. During that time, I visited Peirce Dining Hall once, opting instead to survive off of Easy Mac, cake-in-a-cup and Peirce food brought to me by friends and apartment mates. On my final day, desperate for a change of scenery, I left my house to nap on a friend’s couch.
Despite this isolation, five people in my inner social circle fell ill. While I was very sorry to see this, I wasn’t surprised. Even as a resident of a Taft apartment, with access to a private bathroom, sink and microwave, my “isolation” included the three people I live with and the friends who provided me with food and medicine so I wouldn’t have to leave. If I had lived in a dorm, I would have put even more people at risk.
I cannot overstate how much I appreciate those who ensured that I was comfortable and happy, but I feel obligated to respond to Cullers’ email. Kenyon is built around community, as epitomized by Peirce Hall. While this makes socialization easy, it means that true isolation is scarce. This is something that the College’s administration must consider with every policy, from those that relate to personal transportation to matters of health.
Isolation might be a nice idea, but it’s impossible on this campus. These emails urging students to “consider self treatment and self isolation in your room, rather than confirmation of a potential flu diagnosis in the Health Center” are misguided and, frankly, a bit insulting.
Isabella Blofeld ’19 is an English major from Novato, Calif. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.