The recent outbreak of norovirus caused a surge of a few things: vomit, hand sanitizer, e-mails from Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson and disrespect for Leo’s workers. The first three will probably decline as fewer students contract the illness, and I hope that the fourth will as well.

A major event such as this, which caused more than 200 students to seek treatment, inevitably raises many questions: What are the symptoms? How does the virus spread? How can I take advantage of this excused absence period? And most importantly: Who can we blame for spreading the norovirus?

any on campus blame the Leo’s staff. But, at the Oct. 2nd press conference on the norovirus, Todd Olson stated that the virus did not affect any of the cafeteria workers. Considering that not a single Leo’s staff member contracted the virus, how could they have started it? No, the women and men who serve us in the dining hall are not the source of this stomach bug.

When I argued this point in Spanish class the other day, classmates eventually conceded: Fine, it may not have been the Leo’s workers, but it was the Leo’s food. That is a crucial distinction! Though the university has not released the official source of the virus, early in its investigation, the Department of Health defined the scourge as norovirus, not food poisoning.

It seems that the looming threat of being uncomfortably ill and falling behind in classes has made some forget the compassion on which the Georgetown community normally prides itself. Some students admit to avoiding instead of helping a sick friend. Nowhere did this lack of empathy show more than at Leo’s in its temporary lockdown state.

Diverge with me a moment: Have you ever worked in a service industry job during a busy meal hour or holiday weekend? Remind yourself of the escalating stress as throngs of impatient customers enter the store. No matter how quickly you ring transactions, the crowd does not abate. Your shift seems like it will never end.

Now imagine you are a Leo’s worker who must enforce unpopular sanitation practices and serving restrictions with limited food items. You have to work at the salad bar during peak dinner hours. Students, understandably frustrated by the long lines, irritably ask for lettuce, cucumber, tomato, no wait – no tomato, yeah baby corn, that’s too much, what dressing do you have? Over and over, the line never seems to end.

Please, fellow Georgetown students, try to empathize. No one, including the men and women at Leo’s, liked this past week’s lockdown situation. We still have to sanitize our hands as we enter, so do so without making Ripai or Anna ask you twice. Make a point of thanking the Leo’s staff for their extra work this past week. Most importantly, eliminate the rumor that Leo’s workers spread the norovirus. The extra safety precautions may not end, but the disrespect must!

Catherine Wright is a sophomore in the College.

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