By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
"It seems like it wasn't one specific food," senior Billy Wilkesaid. "Like, I had bratwurst and my friend had chicken, and we both got sick. It might have been the utensils that were infected."
The sickness just rolled in.
The public relations machine at FAU dashed off a series of news releases that described receiving "various reports from individuals with gastrointestinal symptoms ranging from nausea to diarrhea and vomiting." The virus, common on cruise ships and at homes for the elderly, is highly contagious and spreads quickly in tight living conditions, the press office noted. College dorms are an ideal breeding ground, and FAU has more than 1,900 kids living within vomiting distance of one another.
As of late last week, university staff were cleaning flat surfaces with sanitary wipes, starting with the tainted cafeteria and working their way to dorm rooms. A news release reminded students of basic cleanliness techniques, rarely seen on a college campus, which include washing their hands frequently, "especially after toilet visits." The press office helpfully advised students that they should flush all "vomitus and/or stool" in the toilet (as opposed to, say, collecting it in a balloon or pasting it into a scrapbook). Hand sanitizers have been installed throughout campus.
It has been a rough year for FAU. The epidemic comes on the heels of a student-gone-wild being shot by a campus police officer in the middle of the night. The February 8 shooting created another frenzy of news releases, including a letter written by University President Frank Brogan, to portray FAU as the safest campus in South Florida. It didn't help that the shooting occurred while the university was still investigating a high-profile rape that went down at high noon on Thursday last October. That was followed, of course, by the fake rape on February 26, a report by a student that she had been attacked that was subsequently proven to be false.
The norovirus seemed like the perfect metaphor for the malaise that seems to have struck the campus.
"With all of the recent problems at FAU, I'm wondering if I've wasted the last four years here," Wilke says. "I'm glad this is my second-to-last semester."
Tailpipe says, let's nip this in the bud. When the contingents of eager freshmen are introduced to the campus by student guides, all you FAU veterans button up!
As told to Edmund Newton