Satire: There needs to be more loud, open-mouthed coughing in the lecture hall

The wetter and crunchier the better

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McKenna Premus / Daily Collegian

By Kelly McMahan, Collegian Satire Columnist

Editor’s Note: The following column is satirical. It is meant for humorous purposes. All interviews and individuals are fictitious.

Ah yes, the world’s biggest threat to the human immune system: college. Questionable dorm sanitation, a healthy average of five hours of sleep per night and, oh right, a global pandemic, have created a perfect storm of collegiate-grade pathogens that are afflicting students left and right.

Cold season may still be a few months away, but that’s not soon enough for the ambitious students at the University of Massachusetts who are striving to single-handedly speed up infection rates by expectorating wet, open-mouthed coughs in crowded lecture halls.

The strategy of coughing into one’s shoulder, a skill understood by preschoolers but not college students, has been widely abandoned on campus. After all, a wet, phlegmy cough should be shared with everyone! Interrupting a lecture with a rapid-fire coughing fit and spraying warm sneeze molecules onto one’s classmate is all perfectly considerate, but there are so many reasons why students should increase the frequency and magnitude of their sneezing and wheezing.

For example, instead of staying home and resting, sick students should continue to go to lectures and adhere to UMass’s community togetherness initiatives by coughing up mucus particles directly into the back of the head of the person sitting in front of them.

“Finally, we can spew phlegm all over our classmates for the first time since 2020,” said senior economics major Larry Gynitis through tears of joy and a runny nose. “This is a huge moment for the UMass community. They always say that you have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to really understand them, so now we’re living a week with someone else’s bronchitis.”

Based on data collected from the five students who complete end-of-the-year surveys, there has been an increased frequency of statements such as “great class, but something slimy and wet keeps bespattering the back of my neck.”

Additionally, sniffly students have also been emboldened by a new underground social movement called the “Cough Liberation Coalition.” Stationed outside of the Student Union next to the weekly Evangelist preachers, the student Marxist organization and the ski club, members of the Cough Liberation Coalition were reported to be coughing through megaphones at passerby and handing out pamphlets stating, “The Revolution will be Immunized.”

“Expression through expectoration!” announced Inna Fluenzea, the organizer of the Cough Liberation Coalition, barely audible through the megaphone due to her strep throat.

The Cough Liberation Coalition believes that lecture halls make the ideal incubator for both revolutionary ideas and bacterial growth. After over two years of mask mandates, students should continue to take advantage of their newfound lack of masks by having open-mouthed, 120-decibel coughs that reverberate through the lecture hall. Thanks to the acoustics of these lecture halls, the wet crunch of each wheeze can be captured in symphonic detail, forcing every student to imagine the molecules of snot rapidly spreading through the hall’s air system.

Other students who find themselves disillusioned with coughing culture’s adherence to principles of community togetherness or social revolution have taken up a somewhat “Darwinian” justification for widespread whooping and wheezing.

Senior Biology student Eva Looshion, particularly disgruntled by overcrowding in the classrooms, stated, “Let’s just say the common cold is pretty effective at correcting for this year’s over-admission.”

She added, “It’s not my fault that some of these freshmen have lesser-evolved immune systems than I do. They’re in Darwin’s hands now.”

When asked for their opinion on the subject, students from UMass’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences said, “They’re doing what?”

Ivy Bagg, a nursing major, commented, “Students should not be coughing at each other! End of story!” She later added, “But, off the record, I’ve noticed that the sidewalks and dining halls have been less crowded, and I guess you can’t argue with results, so…”

Kelly McMahan can be reached at [email protected].