The Alumni Association will not be introducing new precautions in light of the meningitis outbreak at this year’s Reunions, a decision made following a meeting of University administrators in early April.
In 2013, the Alumni Association posted a note of caution online, warning alumni not to share drinks.
However, at the time, only four cases of meningitis had been reported. Four more cases were reported in fall 2013 before the University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented an emergency measure to bring a vaccine to campus that was not approved for use in the United States.
No new cases have been reported since December 2013, around the same time as the University implemented the first round of vaccinations.
However, a student at Drexel University died from meningitis after reportedly being in contact with Princeton football players at a sorority mixer at her school in March.The death of the student prompted the University to ban overnight stays during the Princeton Preview program, a move that left up in the air whether more severe restrictions would be implemented during Reunions this year, although none were ultimately introduced.
“We would take similar precautions as last year,” Associate Director for ReunionsMibs Mara, said, noting that they would doubly emphasize the need for precautions. “We’re just going to make sure that we do the best job we can with getting the information out, whether it’s around campus, during Reunions or beforehand, on preventative measures that can be taken.”
She explained that the Alumni Council would work closely with the alumni class presidents, the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni and the Reunions chairs to actively communicate the decision.
“The meeting’s primary purpose was about making sure that participants receive relevant information that would help them join the University community in helping stop the spread of illness,”University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua said.
Mbugua also noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health officials have not recommended making changes to or canceling the events on campus.
Organizers also encouraged participants to take preventive measures against the disease during last year’s Reunions, which followed the official announcement of a meningitis outbreak at the University.
Information on prevention was printed and disseminated in last year’s Reunions program and will be printed again in this year’s. The program is also available online.
Mara noted that last year’s Reunions participants were very receptive to this information, and that she hoped the participants would be as cooperative in this year’s.
“From what I understand it, the University is going to try to find a way to communicate some of the risks associated with meningitis,” CDC spokesperson Jason McDonald said. “Of course, we support that. We think it’s a great idea.”
Although University events and activities in general had not been altered in light of the outbreak, this year’s Princeton Preview program saw changes. The University decided to cancel overnight stays for Princeton Preview to ensure the health safety of the admitted high school students.
The meningitis outbreak began in March 2013. The University offered two doses of the meningitis B vaccine, currently only licensed for use in Europe, Canada and Australia, to eligible undergraduate and graduate students in December 2013, February 2014 and March 2014.
Reunions will take place from May 29 to June 1.
Correction: Due an editing error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Mibs Southerland Mara as a Princeton alumna. She is an honorary member of the class of 1962.