"Sick" Students Dodging Swine Flu

Murray, KY – The H1N1 virus has started to affect several college campuses across the nation. Murray State has been spared so far with only about 60 confirmed seasonal flu like cases. But what about those students that are perfectly healthy, but just don't want to go to class? Caleb Campbell has more on how some students could be using the swine flu as an excuse to skip out on education.

Murray State's campus has been slowly changing in appearance to bring in the fall season. Leafs are falling, the temperatures are dropping and people are bundling up. With these changes comes the threat of not only the seasonal flu but the novel H1N1 virus. During a stroll through campus, you'll be sure to see hand sanitizer at any given location and several different posters warning of germs and the importance of good hygiene.

Regardless of preventative measures, students are still getting sick. Absences in class have not yet become an issue, but many students on have experienced flu like symptoms, some even staying home, held up in their room for days at a time.

Senior Psychology Major Maggie Gorman, is just one student at Murray State that contracted the seasonal flu. Worried that it might be H1N1, Maggie visited the on campus health clinic. She is just one of about 60 students so far that have gone to the clinic after experiencing flu like symptoms.

"It was terrible. I was really achy and I had a fever and I just lay in bed for about five days. I missed about a week of classes but my professors were very understanding and helped me get caught up with my work."

Chris Mora is a student that actually experienced what most students and faculty fear the most this season.

"I've had the swine flu this season and it was the worst flu I've ever had in my life."

Chris was in quarantine for five days. He was so sick that he couldn't even contact his professors to let him know the reason for his absences.

"I told them when I got back that I had swine flu. When I was in the hospital I had no communication and most of them understood and gave me a week extension on all of my tests."

With such a widespread flu scattering across the nation, many schools have shut down for up to a week at a time, giving their students and faculty time to get over whatever illness they have. Murray State, so far, has eluded a huge number of illnesses. Out of 10,000 enrolled students, less than 100 have reported flu symptoms.

However, there are students that are perfectly healthy but see the flu problems as a golden opportunity to relax at home.

"Do you ever skip class and use the excuse that you're sick because you know that the professors will understand this semester?"


Chris Hildebrand is an English professor at Murray State. He says administrators notified faculty through e-mail at the beginning of the semester of possible absentee problems due to the flu. The Dean suggested being understanding and helpful towards the students. Hildebrand says he hasn't experienced a huge absentee problem, but knows that students will find a way to miss if they want to.

"Students are going to be students. If it weren't the swine flu, they'd think of something else. Is this a convenient thing for them to say? Yeah, it's pretty convenient. It's built in their schedule already."

Vice President of University Communications Catherine Sivills says agrees with Hildebrand that campus hasn't experienced any huge changes in attendance but Sivill's says the university is preparing for a harsh outbreak just in case.

"At the time we've decided that if it became severe enough where we did need to address it, we did send out communication to faculty expressing the concern that if this did become a problem in their classrooms that we wanted to know about it so we could help."

Maggie Gorman doesn't understand why students skip class. With all the work missed and the several e-mails sent out to notify each of her professors, she just doesn't see the point.

"I feel like some students would take advantage of the whole swine flu to get a day or two off. But it's a pretty big disservice to yourself, taking a whole week off. That's a lot of work to make up."

Chris Mora, the student who survived the swine flu, has a few suggestions for students to keep healthy.

"I say wash your hands, don't touch anybody you don't know, and easy on the kissing."

Murray State seems to be skating by the harsh reality of the flu season so far. But for those who have contracted the flu, a limited number of H1N1 vaccines can be found on campus in the health services department. And as for those students that are pulling a Ferris Bueller, remember that your professors were once college students too.

For WKMS News, I'm Caleb Campbell.