web blogs, rants, essays and other technical topics
Reaction Internet Website Design, Website 
        Hosting, Website Maintenance website design, website hosting, website maintenance, 
        e-commerce, shopping cart systems, reservation systems, seo services


An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

Local University Gets Failing Grade
Virus Preparedness Virtually Non-Existent

By Paul Tomori
Wednesday, August 05, 2009 at 16:17:39 (EDT)

Last week, I listened with befuddled amusement as a CBC commentator described the anti-virus measures that were being taken at Ontario universities in preparation of the return of students in September. The discussion topic sits squarely in the context of addressing (and hopefully stemming) the spread of the H1N1 virus (swine flu). Schools, like airports are considered primary places of concern when it comes to potential pandemics. At schools, there are hundreds or thousands of students who interact in close proximity, a large number of whom then travel on weekends back to their home cities (potentially carrying harmful viruses with them). Airports are hubs for thousands of people being dispersed to every country of the world. It is well-documented that air travel contributed to the SARS deaths back in 2003. It is just a matter of time before the containment of a new deadly virus fails, because of poor preparation. In respect of the current interest on this topic and in particular response to the CBC broadcast, I recently made observations at Brock University and found their "virus readiness" to be utterly inadequate.

I am not trying to be alarmist. I am just a concerned individual who thinks that as a society, we squander many opportunities to take proactive steps. Instead, we seem to bury our collective heads in the sand and passively "hope" that nothing too serious ever happens. As I recall my own time at Brock as a student, I am reminded that post-secondary schools have the benefit of an activist mentality seemingly hard-wired into the brains of energized late teens and 20-somethings. So, where is the movement among them?

More importantly, where is the good judgement of school administrators? These are the ones who have authorized the capital expenditures outlined below.

The reason I found the CBC topic so bewildering is that I had just been at Brock University in St. Catharines a few days prior and I had observed an utter void of basic virus transmission prevention. With classes set to begin in just four weeks, there is much work to be done. Some steps require simple installations of well-signed anti-virus dispensers. Other fixes are more capital-intensive such as replacing swinging doors with sliding doors like you might see at Best Buy or Zehrs or any run-of-the-mill big box retail outlet.

No, I am not a germaphobe... and no, I do not have anything against Brock University specifically as an institution of higher learning. In fact, I think Brock is a GREAT school. I earned a first-rate education there, then graduated in 1992.

However, I believe that universities should lead, not fall woefully behind in areas of such prime importance as health and wellness. When it comes to the issue of potentially vital international concern, it seems to me that universities should be setting an example.

Here's the Health Canada directive. Pretty vague and reactionary if you ask me. Where is the proaction??


Here's the CBC article on the topic:


A few blog posts ago, I wrote about what people 150 years from now might look back on us with astonishment for having done... or for having failed to do. I think our present-day approach to basic infection prevention is going to be quite perplexing in retrospect for future generations. No doubt people in the future will conclude: "the majority of people back in 2009 REALLY should have known better".

Truly, the educated people of 2009 DO know better. They just aren't acting on their knowledge yet.

Everyone knows that disease prevention is MUCH more desirable and less costly both in dollars and lives, than to react to problems once they have arrived. So why is there so much emphasis in the news on what infected people should do after infected? Why not focus on basic PREVENTIVE measures??

Now, I know it is impossible to guard everyone against every possible germy object. At Brock, people must share computers, desks, etc. However, the main junctions where thousands of students come and go and the places where germs are the most easily transmitted in greater volume MUST be shown some priority if there is going to be progress. Below is an informal pictorial critique of Brock. Again, I am not picking on Brock so much as using them as an example. I am sure many other universities in Ontario would also get a failing grade in infection prevention. Some of the items would be quick fixes. Others... not so easy to fix. But, not so hard to fix either! How about a rallying cry for action?

Welcome to the main entrance for students arriving for class from the North campus dorms. The first thing they must do is grab a hold of those doors and exchange germs with anyone who has come before them or who will come after them. This is a relatively new wing in the school. Where are the sliding doors? Wal-mart, Best Buy, Zehrs, Costco, and dozens of other places have sliding doors. Why can't Brock?? Why do thousands of students all have to TOUCH those doors just to get into the school?

Then, after passing through another set of doors with handles, the nearest hand-washing dispenser is WAAYYY down the hall to the right by the elevator. It is not clearly signed at all

Of course, when you get there, you actually have to TOUCH (read "Push") the dispenser to get some anti-bacterial goo (if the dispenser isn't empty!)

Why didn't they put a well-signed dispenser on this wall directly across from the entrance pictured above? Then students turning left OR right would both have an opportunity to cleanse their hands.

Once inside, the nearest washroom is a laughable situation. To start, you have another door? Why not do away with doors to washrooms and just have those bending halls like you see at Fairview Mall or like the washrooms in the Pen Centre food court??

The stalls have turning latches which mean you must TOUCH them with your hands instead of just sliding them say with your elbow (I have spared you that photo!).
Then, at the sink, what's up with this turn-tap? Surely, in this new building, they could have put those automated taps. Instead, one must dirty one's hands on the tap (or put yet more germs on the tap), then wash one's hands, then with the clean hands, turn the dirty tap off again. Laughable if you ask me.

Of course, the obligatory sign says that one should use a towel to dry one's hands. In the hospitals, a similar sign advises to turn the tap off with the paper towel you have just used... but...

...Brock doesn't offer paper towels in their washrooms.

Then, with hands now dry, (but still germy), one leaves the washroom by pulling open the door. This is the nearest washroom to the cafeteria. Do the kitchen staff use these washrooms too?? eek!

Most likely the busiest entrance to Brock... this is where students enter after having arrived by bus. This is also where a majority of students enter from the parking lots. Just inside these outside-facing doors, there is another set of internal-facing doors... that's two more sets of doors that thousands of students must handle for every entrance and exit. Again, where are the sliding doors??

A sign on the door cautions students to wash their hands, but upon entry, there is only one small dispenser way over by the library entrance.

The busiest lecture hall in the school is Room 247. Notice the bathroom doors right outside this VERY busy conduit? Right! More doors that one pushes to get in, but which must be pulled to get out (i.e. so you can't even use your foot to get out of the dirty washroom!). Again, inside, no paper towels. On the outside, no dispenser of anti-viral goo.

A popular eating and meeting area. No dispenser present.

Throughout the school, there are more doors in the middle of hallways. These always annoyed me when I was a student. What is their purpose? Fire safety maybe? Like all these cinder blocks would burn anyway... So, even if you do get into the school without exposure to germs on the entrance doors and even if you do manage to evade the critters lurking in the bathrooms, rest assured, you can't evade these internal doors. There are just too many of them everywhere.

If you ask me, the rare (mostly empty) dispensers scattered throughout the school and the signs posted on the doors are all just lip service to a very serious issue. In for a penny, in for a pound folks! I hope to give Brock a passing grade sometime soon. They have the power. Let's hope they have the good sense and the will.


After I completed this blog entry, CNN published their own article on the topic of school's readying their facilities and students:

And, then on August 7, 2009, the CBC did another article on this topic. Ya, it's a HOT topic right now!!
They actually suggest that desks be moved so kids aren't sitting so close together. I think it's going to take a LOT more than that.

Return To Blog Index

Read about our world-class SPAM solution ACTION Webmail Home | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Legal | Office Location | Email Us
Reaction Internet
43 Church Street
Suite 605
St. Catharines, Ontario
L2R 7E1
Contact Info
Phone: 1-905-684-3692
Fax: 1-905-988-9449
Toll-free: 1-866-848-7778
Website: ReactionInternet.com

Copyright © 2001-2009.
1584515 Ontario Inc. O/A Reaction Internet