Concern over meningitis outbreak impacts Big Sibs, Princeton Disabilities Awareness carnival
Several campus organizations have had their events cancelled or seen reduced participation due to concerns by outside groups over the outbreak of bacterial meningitis at Princeton.
The Big Sibs mentoring program by the Class of 2016 has had two events with its elementary school mentees cancelled, and a Princeton Disabilities Awareness event this weekend saw much lower attendance than predicted. The cancellations reflect the wider communities' concerns about interacting with members of the Princeton community amidst the outbreak — which has attracted widespread media attention — despite health authorities' approval for events to continue as scheduled.
The Big Sibs programcancelled an event originally planned for Saturday. The “little sibs,” students at the City Invincible Charter School in Camden who are matched with Princeton sophomores as mentors, had planned to visit campus. However, after the University announced an eighth case of meningitis on Friday, a representative from the school contacted Big Sibs Co-Chair Sofia Gomez ’16 amid growing requests from parents and families.
“Concerns from little sibs’ parents and families encouraged them to postpone their visit,” Gomez said. “Princeton students were scheduled to visit Camden this coming Saturday, but that event will also be postponed due to the same concerns.”
As of now, the little sibs’ visit to campus has yet to be rescheduled.
Coordinators of the Princeton Disabilities Awareness carnival reported many fewer attendees than had originally registered for the conference.
"It’s absolutely been affected [by the outbreak,]" Co-President Miryam Amsili ’14said. "We had originally 81 families register. Over the past week, I had, say, 17 families call me and tell me they weren’t coming because of the meningitis outbreak."
Many parents expressed fears that visiting campus could lead to increased risk of contracting the illness.
Amsili brought these concerns to University Health Services, which provided a letter that was sent to all carnival participants. The letter reassured participants that the N.J. Department of Health had approved all on-campus events to proceed as scheduled. However, as of Sunday afternoon, only 32 of the original 81 families showed up for the day’s events. Amsili also noted that 120 volunteers were on hand to run the event.