Over 15 cases of mumps have been reported in Brasenose in the past week – with ten still described as “live”.
One of the patients, a first-year Biologist, said: “College has been very good about it actually. Once college doctors diagnosed us, we were given the option of going home or staying in college under quarantine.
“Mumps is obviously annoying but fairly mild and definitely manageable with painkillers- it just leaves you looking like a hamster for a few days,” he added.
The fresher continued: “We’re getting meals delivered to our rooms by college staff, and they’ve set aside bathrooms on affected staircases for quarantined students. Life in quarantine is less frustrating than I imagined – room service, Skype and Netflix are keeping me in good spirits.”
Quarantine confines affected students to their room and a toilet on their staircase. The college provides them with three free hot meals a day delivered to their room.
The college nurse has sent emails to the student body telling them the signs and symptoms of mumps. There have also been posters put up around college. Specific advice was sent to finalists by the Senior Tutor and Dean on what to do if they contract mumps during finals.
Brasenose JCR President, Henry Zeffman, commented: “It is clearly unfortunate that there has been a small outbreak of mumps at Brasenose at a time where many people, particularly finalists, are under considerable stress.”
He continued: “I am satisfied that College has taken the correct precautionary measures throughout. The Bop went ahead on the advice of the College authorities, who are receiving medical advice from the College Doctor and the College Nurse.”
A college spokesperson said: “A small number of students at Brasenose has been infected with mumps. To assist with recuperation and to protect others students and staff, it is common practice for those affected to return home for a few days.”
He explained that: “For those students for whom this is not practical or desirable, the College has made arrangements for them to stay in College, ensuring they are kept apart from other students and staff as far as is practical. We wish them all a swift recovery.”
The story had been reported by national newspaper TheDaily Mail. However, the coverage was met with hostility amongst Brasenose students.
One first year mumps patient attacked the Daily Mail, saying the article was a “a vile misrepresentation”. The student added: “it’s so wrong”.
The Mail and the Tab quoted an “anonymous 3rd year English student” who claimed the college was “a ghost town” after an “irresponsible” bop. The student further claimed that 30 students had been taken ill, although this figure had not been backed up.
However, speaking to The Oxford Student, the first year mumps patient rebutted these claims, saying: “No one’s been ill from the bop, it’s certainly not a ghost town.”
JCR President Zeffman also criticised the Mail and the Tab in an email to the JCR. His message sarcastically read: “A ‘third year English student’ has taken time out from, you know, doing their Finals to give a devastatingly accurate account of recent events to The Tab, which has now been picked up by that great paragon of journalistic quality, The Daily Mail……It’s a cracking read. Just a shame about the facts.”
The JCR President further disputed the third year English student’s account, saying: “You say you ‘know quite a few people that went [to the Bop] and have now come down with mumps.’ This is fascinating on so many levels. Firstly, as of 14:56 today, *literally* no-one who who went to the bop has been diagnosed with mumps. I think there’s a fairly obvious explanation for this, which you might have been aware of if you weren’t a total cretin, namely that mumps has a two-week incubation period.”
Zeffman added: “Most ludicrously, you say ‘we should have a quarantine.’ I quite agree. That’s why everyone who has been diagnosed with mumps and not gone home has spent five (no doubt pretty miserable) days in … quarantine.”