By Amanda Sopko
September 30, 2009
"Pig puns" are spreading faster than the Swine Flu on college campuses.
Although the American College Health Association reports that 91 percent of surveyed schools have cases of H1N1, it doesn't look like students are taking the illness too seriously.
At Emory University, where more than 200 cases of H1N1 were reported within the first two weeks of school, infected students were placed in a separate dorm while they recovered. But quarantine didn’t stop them from having fun with their illness.
“They had all sorts of funny names for it,” said Emory senior Desi Gonzalez of the ‘self-isolation’ building. “Quarantine, swine house, or the pig pen…. And then we called the truck that goes around, we called that ‘The Flying Pig.’”
The fun doesn’t stop with comical names. Swine Flu mask parties are popping up across the country, and students at George Washington University and Penn State advertised Swine Flu theme parties on Facebook.
"Come and celebrate the start of the new school year with Lambda Chi in your finest, doctor, nurse, or pig outfit," said the event listing posted by a fraternity member at George Washington. The event had 139 guests confirmed according to the invite on Facebook.
Sarah Burton, the creator of a "night of mayhem" party at Penn State wrote, "If you can't beat it, join it!"
Students aren't the only ones having a little fun with swine flu satire; administrators are taking part in the H1N1 jokes as well. In an effort to educate students in a creative way, the Communications and Public Affairs office at Johns Hopkins University published an online glossary that includes terms like "hog tide" and "boar war."
"We were hitting people over the head with the messages and we wanted to do something in a light-hearted way," said Dennis O'Shea, director of communications and public affairs at Johns Hopkins.
O'Shea said the idea for the glossary came about when he sneezed into his sleeve at work and gave birth to the term "sleeze." He and his colleagues brainstormed more Swine Flu terms, and the final list was e-mailed to students in one of the school's daily electronic announcements.
While the glossary takes a more upbeat approach to the serious threat of Swine Flu, its purpose is to reach and inform students so they can protect themselves from the virus.
"Sometimes the most effective way to reach someone is through laughter and not by hitting them over the head with a two-by-four," said O'Shea. "It's important to do whatever you can in a situation like this in as many different ways as you can to get people to pay attention."
In conjunction with the humorous methods, Johns Hopkins administrators plan to use serious posters and e-mailings to continue delivering H1N1 information to students.
Emory University hosts town hall meetings to educate their community on the illness and its risks, since they feel that Swine Flu is still a significant risk, particularly because of the upcoming cold weather.
“People do need to realize that the flu is a problem, especially during the winter months,” said Emory EMT Ashley Lauria.
As of Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control has recorded more than 21,000 cases of H1N1 on college campuses.
UWIRE’s Shelby Holliday contributes to this story.