Accusations of people licking doorknobs on the Fort Lewis College campus have left many puzzled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The first mention of doorknob licking happened at 11:42 a.m. on August 24, the first day of classes for the Fall semester. It was posted by second-year FLC student, Robert Dennett, on the Fort Lewis College app, a new tool available to students that features a Student Feed, an online forum available for students to connect with each other.
The post read, “Please don’t lick door knobs in the student union. We can see you and it’s not funny.”
In the first four days following the post, doorknob licking was mentioned in 16 other student-posts, accumulating just over 350 likes total.
The posts were overwhelmingly against the act of doorknob licking with one student, Chris Beard, writing, “You don’t get cool points for licking door knobs.”
Others were in disbelief that it was actually happening.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Akyia Ross, a first-year student at FLC. “I really don’t understand the point of it. I think maybe everyone is just kind of bored and they don’t know how to go about things this year so they’re coming up with these ideas.”
Let’s be clear: so far, there is only one case of doorknob licking with a corroborating witness. This was witnessed by Dennett, who was the writer of the original post.
“I was in the restroom and I noticed somebody was laughing,” he said. “I thought, that’s kind of funny and strange, and so I left my stall to go and see. I saw two males, one of them licking a door handle, while the other was recording.”
Dennett, who is in his second year of serving as a senator for the Associated Students of Fort Lewis College, the student government, said the FLC administration and ASFLC have been looking into the incident since Dennett witnessed it happen and reported it.
So far, ASFLC has received three other accounts of people licking doorknobs on campus, all of them being eye-witness accounts and no videos have surfaced, Dennett said.
Dennett declined to name those who made these eye-witness accounts.
“In reality, where I think the biggest issue with this is that the college administration and ASFLC, instead of doing the committee work that we were really excited to do, we have to hold committee meetings about doorknob licking,” Dennett said. “It is a huge resource drain.”
Julie Love, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, spoke on behalf of the FLC administration in an email following a request for comment.
“We are proud of the consistent and unequivocal response by so many students who have condemned the report of someone licking a doorknob on campus,” Love said.
“While we have not received additional reports, this has certainly heightened our awareness of just how much we are in this semester together,” she said. The actions of one individual can have a ripple effect on many others. There are so many more examples of students being responsible, taking COVID precautions seriously and caring for one another. This incident clearly does not reflect or represent our community as a whole.”
Love also encouraged students who might be participating in the acts to think of those who are experiencing the coronavirus pandemic differently.
“For those who have not had to face some of these realities directly, I encourage you to put yourself in the shoes of those who have faced these and commit to looking out for one another,” Love said. “I hear over and over that students want to be here and not have their semester interrupted. Let’s all commit to contributing to a safe campus for ourselves and for others.”