UCSD Lifts Undergraduate Laboratory Safety Protocols

Written by: Katie Campbell

“Now I can come to lab straight from Black’s Beach,” said Axident.
Photo by Millie You

Following a classified document leak last week, UC San Diego Environment, Health & Safety confirmed that personal protective equipment will not be required for undergraduate laboratory courses, “effective immediately.” Instead of lab coats or chemical splash goggles, the announcement stated that the only coverage necessary to enter the lab is “enough to protect you from a public indecency charge.”

A group of EH&S representatives later held a webinar to clarify the new rules. “We’re doing this to get rid of all the stupid restrictions on laboratory work,” said one EH&S representative, Reagan Ronald. “No one’s really gotten hurt in a UCSD lab in the past two weeks. It’s all just minor injuries you’d get even with PPE. Why keep all of this red tape around? It’s such a pain in the ass.” 

Another representative, Dr. Badeye Dea, further elaborated on the reasoning behind the changes. “These professors should know better than to give you anything actually dangerous, so there’s no reason to bother with long pants and closed-toe shoes. What, are you afraid of a little acid?” After changing the webinar permissions to require approval to speak amid a “flurry of indistinguishable criticism,” Dea continued, “Jesus, if it bothers you so much, we’re going to ban PPE entirely. At least right now you have the choice to wear a lab coat. Be grateful, worms.”

One fourth-year student, Nooway Imdointhat, expressed that they felt “hesitant” about entering the lab with less protection. “In my research lab, we never really wear lab coats,” Imdointhat said. “We only work with non-pathogenic bacteria, and we still usually wear safety glasses because it sucks when something splashes and you have to wash E. coli out of your eye. But those lower-division teaching labs are lawless. People pass concentrated sulfuric acid between the fume hoods uncapped. How many injuries will it take before they start making us sign a waiver informing us of the risk of death to take CHEM 43A?” 

While many students and professors have voiced criticisms of the change, first-year student Reelly Naiive shared their support for the updated requirements. “I love it, actually,” Naiive said. “I’m in CHEM 7L this quarter, and the goggles suck so bad. They’re always fogged up, so I can’t read the meniscus on the buret. I’ve been trying to do this titration for three class periods now, but after 30 trials, I’m still just getting pink because the stupid goggles are in the way,” Naiive added. CHEM 7L student Beeg Axident also shared their thoughts on the change, saying, “It’s really exciting that they’re treating us like adults capable of making our own decisions. Well, it’s kind of unfortunate that the person on the bench behind me had an Erlenmeyer flask explode and like totally shred their eyeballs or something,” Axident said. “I heard they’re still in the hospital, but the professor says more than one absence results in an automatic fail, so I guess they’re taking it next quarter.”

Following the recent announcement, EH&S announced via social media that the next step in their “deregulation of the university laboratory industry” will involve removing and selling all chemical fume hoods and requiring all experiments to be conducted on the laboratory benches. “We can’t afford to build Tenth College if we keep putting fume hoods in these labs,” Ronald said. “It’s all about cutting costs. We have to run this school like a business or we’re just going to keep losing money. Besides, we opened the windows and put up some $20 box fans. It’s not like one death is the end of the world.”

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