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Letter to the editor

Professor addresses student cleanliness, hygiene issues

March 25, 2010

Ah, the aromas of spring, tulips and early barbeques.  But there are other aromas, too.

Ones that put me in a dilemma. As an instructor, I am told about the body odor of students.
 
Innocent folks, trying to be helpful, but not having the courage to tell those who sit next to them in class that more showers and stronger deodorant are needed, inform me of the problem. 

I guess I am thought to be the person who can best share this knowledge with a student, discretely. 

What do I do?

I want to be a person that guides students academically and in other ways to help open their future lives and career opportunities, but I never learned about this dilemma in graduate school.

Instead I learn to analyze problems. My analysis is this.

When we are at home under our loving parents care, and this problem arises, they can say “Honey, I think you need to shower more.” 

The message of love comes across along with the suggestion. Or perhaps even more effective is the sibling’s message, “You stink. Literally, you stink!” Not so loving, but not too jarring coming from a sibling.

Then we go off to college. For many this is the first time laundry is our sole responsibility. No loving parent or brutally honest sibling is nearby to sound the alarm. Winter is less of a problem. 

It’s cold and there is less sweat. Then spring comes.  Some students haven’t done laundry in months and shower only once a week. 

The resulting smell overwhelms the aromas of spring tulips and early barbeques.

Well, I’m hoping this letter is good enough to solve my dilemma, to sound the alarm without offending anyone. But of course, there is the dilemma for students. How do you inform a teacher that they have a special spring aroma?

Maybe an anonymous note in their mail box? Both dilemmas solved! Then may we all take a deep breath and enjoy spring’s many pleasant aromas. 

Davida Alperin,
Professor,
Political Science Department