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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

SHS, Dining Services Respond to Uptick in Gastrointestinal Illnesses

SHS, Dining Services Respond to Uptick in Gastrointestinal Illnesses
Emma McCartan

In an email sent on Monday, Feb. 26, Colgate University Student Health Services informed the campus community of an uptick in gastrointestinal illnesses. The email, sent by Director of Student Health Services Dr. Ellen Larson, stated that there has been an increase in gastrointestinal symptoms reported at Student Health Services (SHS) as well as one confirmed case of norovirus. This reflects a similar trend across Madison County. 

According to a news update published on Feb. 27, Colgate University notified the Madison County Department of Public Health on Feb. 24 of “at least 15 students with symptoms of gastrointestinal illness consistent with norovirus infection,” with an additional 54 cases under investigation within the Hamilton community.

Larson also described precautions that Colgate University dining halls are taking in an attempt to stop the spread of illness. 

“The dining halls will be moving to a full-serve model for the coming days, and Student Health Services is working closely with the Madison County Health Department to monitor the situation for any further increase in illness,” Larson wrote. 

Resident District Manager for Chartwells Dining Services Jon Downes described the temporary changes they are enacting.

While health and safety protocols are inherent in our daily operations, out of an abundance of caution we have made the following changes,” Downes said. “We have converted our operations over to full-service, adjusting the majority of self-serve stations, to the extent possible. Donovan’s Pub and Heiber Café are already full service. In the Coop [O’Connor Campus Center] and Frank Dining Hall, we have made strategic changes to also make this adjustment towards full-service.”

Downes further explained how these precautions will help contain the illnesses circulating and the extra disinfection measures they will be taking.

“These changes limit the possibility of cross-contamination with shared utensils. Hand sanitizer has been distributed throughout the dining halls as well for everyone’s use, although we highly encourage more frequent hand-washing,” Downes said. “We have also increased our frequency of disinfection of all beverage equipment handles such as water, Coke and milk dispensers as well as counter and surface areas disinfection. We are prepared to utilize disposable cutlery as well if needed.”

Downes stated they will continue to keep a close eye on the situation with the additional help of emergency services.

“Our management team is working closely with the emergency management committee on campus as well as Madison County Department of Health to monitor the situation and make further adjustments as needed,” Downes said. “Ideally, these precautions will lessen in the coming days, but are a necessary step whenever there is the possibility of student illness.”

Senior Olivia Fox recently contracted a stomach virus, explaining that she also knew several other people dealing with the same issue.

“I contracted the virus over the weekend and knew a handful of people who had it at the same time,” Fox said. “I’ve seen news about it spreading in the Northeast, and it seems like it finally reached campus.”

Senior Zach Martin also recently contracted some form of a stomach virus, detailing the difficult experience.

“It was definitely the sickest I’ve ever been at Colgate,” Martin said. “Possibly the sickest I’ve ever been. I couldn’t drink water without vomiting. I ended up just going to the hospital so they could give me stuff like nausea meds and hydration through an IV.”

In an additional email sent on Tuesday, Feb. 27, Dean of Academic and Curricular Affairs Douglas Johnson and Dean for Administrative Advising and Student Conduct Kim Taylor reminded students of the policy for excused class absences in the wake of rising influenza and norovirus cases in the region.

“Students are expected to contact their professors directly regarding brief absences that involve missed coursework or exams,” the email read. “At students’ request, their administrative dean will notify professors about an illness or circumstance when it results in prolonged class absences.” 

Student Health Services encourages students to stay home if they experience symptoms. Downes echoed the sentiment that health is their central focus.

“The health and safety of the Colgate campus community is our highest priority, and I truly appreciate the patience and understanding involved in these situations,” Downes said.

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About the Contributors
Ellie Weber, News Editor
Ellie Weber is a junior from New York, NY concentrating in political science. She has previously served as a staff writer for the News section. On campus, Ellie is involved in the Comedy Sketch Club.
Emma McCartan, Assistant News Editor
Emma McCartan is a sophomore from Guilford, CT majoring in international relations with a minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. She has previously served as a staff writer for the News section. On campus, Emma is involved in Model United Nations.

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