A Knox welcome – Pumphandle: Knox community greets Pumphandle with caution, not panic

From the Register-Mail:

You don’t have to read the latest Centers for Disease Control reports to know that shaking hands with hundreds of people sounds like a case of swine flu — ahem — H1N1 virus waiting to happen.

As such, Knox College took special precautions this year with its opening Pumphandle, the annual event where the entire campus shakes hands.

Each year on the day before Knox’s convocation, each student, faculty and staff member lines up. Starting at the line’s beginning, each person walks through, shaking hands as they go. When at the end, they stop and the people who arrived after them come to shake their hands.

Basically, at handshake train’s conclusion, one gets tired of saying “hello,” and a lot of skin has touched a lot of skin.

“Both at Pumphandle and in daily life we’re warning students to be cautious about H1N1, but not panic,” said Knox President Roger Taylor.


This year’s Pumphandle line spiraled across the east lawn and was visible from East South Street before finally snaking  up to the third floor of Knox’s historic Old Main.

Although a few students shook hands wearing rubber gloves — likely a playful gesture that fit with some of the other costumes on display at Pumphandle — neither Neiehoff or Vanskike was concerned about getting sick.

“We are already versed in proper hygiene,” said Vanskike, an economics major who along with Niehoff graduated from Carl Sandburg College in the spring. “We are not afraid of the ‘swine flu’.”

Instead, they looked forward to their next two years at Knox.

“It was good experience,” Niehoff said.

“I’ll never miss it,” Vanskike added.