Microbiological hazards of "whirling"?

Nicholas Landau nlandau at eden.rutgers.edu
Sun Apr 27 16:54:13 EST 1997

Nancy Hamlett <Nancy_Hamlett at hmc.edu> writes:

>I am a faculty member at small college, which has a tradition I find 
>appalling.  Students who have a birthday, high-score an exam, or 
>have otherwise notable achievements are "whirled".  "Whirling" 
>consists of inverting the victim, sticking her his or head into the 
>bowl of toilet and flushing the toilet.  This tradition is deeply 
>ingrained in the student culture; however, our students are open to 
>persuasion by objective data.  Does anyone have an data or know of 
>any sources that might have data relevant to the microbiological 
>hazarads of whirling?

I do not have the data which you require.  However, I can point out
that this practice, which you find appalling, is very common among
teenage males.  Where I grew up, in Washington DC, we called this
kind of assault a "swirley."  To commit the assault was to "give a
swirley."  Having both received and administered a number of
swirleys, I cannot remember anyone having fallen ill as a result.
It stings the pride a bit, but that's the point.

Among friends, the practice is usually performed using a toilet
which has been purged of any excreted matter.  Because it is a
form of hazing, it represents rowdy comradery, and not hatred
or a desire to alienate.  Well, hopefully that's the purpose of
the practice at Mudd.

Why not perform a controlled experiment?  Compare the rates of
contageous illness between a group of swirly victims and a group
of persons to whom no swirleys have been given during the period
of study.

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