Illness Etiquette

By Ali Strand

Courtesy of

It’s that time of year again. Tissues overflow trashcans, sniffling students harmonize in hallways, and a cough drop shortage ensues. Anywhere and everywhere you go the smell of sickness is potent. There’s no escaping it. Once one person falls ill, the domino effect comes into play and suddenly everyone’s down and out. We all try to hold out for as long as we can, but clearly, succumbing to the bug is inevitable.

However, as I sit in my lectures of nearly 300 students, half of which are coughing, sneezing, clearing their throats or complaining in general about all of the above, all I can think is, this is completely avoidable. I looked around the room and saw that only half of the inflicted sneezed, coughed or cleared their throats into their elbow. The other half, at most, would cover their mouths with their hands or not at all. Is that a joke? You must be messing with me. Um, no. This is real life. While I can be sympathetic to your ailment and understand that being sick is never fun, come on. Think of the other hundred students in the class or furthermore, the other 25,000 people on campus.

There is a certain etiquette that should be upheld when living in such close quarters with so many people. Clearly the obvious courtesies go right over the heads of some of my fellow classmates. Below you’ll find a list of tips and guidelines for proper sickness etiquette to replace the, at best, subpar etiquette that I’ve been witnessing.

1)  Sneeze, cough, or clear your throat by putting your mouth over or use the inside of your elbow. Do not cough, sneeze or clear your throat onto the back of the head of the person in front of you. That is rude. Don’t be that guy.

2)  If you have germs on your hands from not following rule number one, do not put your hands all over the doorknobs, dining common silverware, or desks that other people touch. Hand sanitizer is not that expensive and takes up very little space. Invest in your future as a decent human being, forgo the afternoon soda and splurge that dollar on a small bottle of sanitizer.

3)  Stay in your own room. Stop infecting others by being around them. Now is the time to be antisocial: stay in your bed and give your roommate a can of Lysol to spray every now and again.

WIth these helpful tips, we can keep the sickness to a minimum on campus…or at least, uphold a sense of illness etiquette.

Ali Strand can be reached at [email protected]