I am writing in response to an editorial in the Nov. 18 issue titled “NIU Overreacting to Outbreak.” My position is in opposition to The Northern Star’s.
The article stated that having soap dispensers installed in the residence halls is a waste of money and that the soap dispensers would be ineffective and vulnerable to destruction.
The basic germ theories applied a hundred years ago clearly demonstrate concrete evidence of increased disease prevention. It is absurd and amazing that the Star does not recognize hand washing as an important basic element of public health promotion and disease prevention.
I believe that the money being spent to purchase and to install soap dispensers is appropriate and long overdue. How could NIU allocate funds more appropriately than on items that would increase hand washing among residence hall students and in effect increase the promotion of good hygiene and to decrease the spread of infection?
When I use the term infection, I am referring to the common cold, different strains of influenza, hepatitis A, and other communicable diseases such as the Norwalk virus.
Many believe that the students should provide their own soap. The question of the students supplying their own soap is not realistic or convenient. When an individual goes to the restroom he/she is not thinking of washing their hands until after elimination. It is not likely a student will take time to get a bar of soap and a towel before going to the restroom.
Most students are rushed and are likely to forget to take a bar of soap with them. And think of all the door handles touched with unwashed hands while going back to their room to get the forgotten bar of soap.
And what of their guests, should they also have to supply their own soap? I think not. It would be very accommodating to have the soap above the sink ready for use.
I also believe that having the soap available would promote hand washing. Hand washing is such a simple concept to prevent spread of disease and has been proven effective in many research studies.
Yes, there may be some isolated cases of vandalism, but each residence hall floor would be charged for the damage that occurred. So, in essence, each floor would be responsible for paying for their damage and not NIU. Eventually this problem, if it occurs, will be self-limiting.
NIU administrators have the support of the Student Health Advisory Council, (SHAC), in making the decision to install soap dispensers. It would be ignorant not to recognize that hand washing is a basic and fundamental mechanism in prevention of infectious diseases.
It is extremely unfortunate that the installation of soap dispensers took an outbreak of disease to initiate the action.