Faculty Senate voices opinion on coronavirus plans

JJ Bullock , Editor-in-Chief

The executive board of Eastern’s Faculty Senate met with Eastern President David Glassman and Provost Jay Gatrell last week, where they discussed Eastern’s potential plans moving forward in response to the global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak.

Eastern students studying abroad in Italy have been called back home and have been asked to quarantine themselves. Students also are being encouraged not to buy their study abroad tickets for any summer trips, the executive board told the Senate. 

C.C. Wharram, Don Holly and Jeff Stowell makeup the executive board that met with administration. Wharram told the Senate the administration is taking the outbreak “very seriously.”

Early talks have also begun about the potential cancellation of larger university events such as the Spring concert and graduation if the Coronavirus does reach Eastern’s campus. Those talks are in preliminary stages and were brought to the Senate’s attention by Staff Senate member Beth Gillespie, who attended a meeting where vice president of student affairs Lynette Drake addressed the possibility of those cancellations. 

The Senate expressed concern about any potential cancellations of classes at Eastern or events like the concert or graduation. 

Senate member Sue Gosse, an associate professor of nursing, said she did not feel cancellations of classes or events were necessary at Eastern. 

“I do believe that there seems to be too much fear, irrational fear of a disease that is lethal, lethal to a small sliver of the population and we need to pay attention to it,” Gosse said. “Whether we need to stop everything, I don’t think so, I really don’t.”

Gosse said the main thing Eastern students should do to keep themselves safe from COVID-19 is listen to all the advice they have been getting since they were children: wash their hands, keep up their personal hygiene and don’t go out if they’re sick. 

Additionally she said it is important for people to remember to clean devices such as smart phones, laptops and other gadgets handled often. 

“(Hands) are lethal weapons, these can carry lethal pathogens and you have to be aware of that,” Gosse said. “So washing with friction, with flowing water, several, several times a day. But not touching your face, touching your hair. We really don’t understand how much bacteria can get in your hair, even if you wash your hair regularly.”

What it is about the Coronavirus that has made it such a hot topic Gosse was not sure. But she said being what is called an “emerging infections,” which means it is being studied in humans for the first time, may have played a factor, along with the misreporting of the virus’ mortality rate in China.

“What kills people is not so much the flu, but the pneumonia that comes from the flu,” Gosse said. “I think everybody’s best guideline is to keep your personal hygiene, hand washing, hand sanitation. It’s hard not to touch your face, it’s just an automatic thing. If you’re sick it’s always good to stay home and take care of yourself.”

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]