Western must reach out

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

November 20, 2007 Ed Cartoon

Western administration has not said much in the wake of the confirmed salmonella cases stemming from CentreSpot.

Since the initial infections were reported by the Middlesex-London Health Unit on Nov. 10, ten more cases have been confirmed by individuals who claim they did not eat at Pita Pit, bringing to light evidence the whole of CentreSpot became contaminated.

Western administration’s response has been to say the infections were “regrettable,” and to offer medical and counselling services to those infected.

However, this does not discount the fact the university has yet to make an official apology.

The question of whether it should is irrefutable. Despite the fact Pita Pit owns the franchise, Western owns the facilities and employs the facilities’ staff, meaning the university is responsible for overseeing health standards.

While admitting fault would potentially open the university to further legal action, it nevertheless owes it to the community. If students wishing to pursue legal action choose to do so, Western must answer to them.

There are also a number of steps the university should have taken immediately following the outbreak.

First, the university should have contacted staff, students and administration directly following the reports of salmonella poisoning warning them of the confirmed cases and indicating Pita Pit was the source.

As students are a captive audience for Food Services, the university must ensure students are abreast of all developments regarding this matter. Students have little choice in eateries beyond Food Services-run facilities, making it important they can trust their sources of on-campus food.

Second, the university has sent no direct notification to students regarding CentreSpot’s closure Saturday for a thorough cleaning. The silence is surprising given the financial repercussions to the university if students continue to choose not to eat there. Such a move would help in rebuilding students’ trust in the facility.

The university has done well to accommodate these students academically, and this is the very least that should be expected of them. Further action can only be taken at individual students’ discretion.

But the university’s lack of action only signals a downplaying of these events. It is important the university issue an apology despite the legal risks, as it is a symbolic gesture that would ease the students’ minds.

Western has taken the necessary steps to ensure CentreSpot is safe, but it must do more to rebuild students’ trust.

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