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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Senate to focus on health issues

Tufts Community Union (TCU) senators Sunday night toyed with the idea of creating online avenues to respond to students' frequently asked questions about issues relating to student medical services.

The Senate will most likely work with different campus groups to publish the information on its Web site, in the form of easily readable summaries and links to other university Web pages, according to TCU President Duncan Pickard.

"The whole point is first to spread information that we don't think is out there, but also to make it more accessible to students," Pickard, a junior, said.

At their weekly meeting, the senators discussed one proposal that includes working with Tufts Emergency Medical Services (TEMS) and Health Service to ensure that students clearly understand the institutions' methods of handling alcohol-abuse cases.

TEMS Executive Director Jonathan Nadler, a senior, said that despite Operation Awareness, an informational program included in freshman orientation, and the high rate of student participation in TEMS on campus, most students are uninformed about the medical service.

"All the freshmen should know the current way that we operate," he said. "But I have heard a lot of people with incorrect information."

Both Nadler and Director of Health Education Ian Wong said that they had heard of the Senate's plans, but that no one from the body had contacted them directly.

Junior Brendan Johannsen said that while he felt he is knowledgeable about the university's policies because of his work in the Office of Residential Life and Learning, TEMS' methods and policies are often shrouded in mystery.

"If I were not in a position in which I needed to know the policies, I think I would not be as clear on them, because at times they are not as clear as they should be," Johannsen said. "I think there's very little attempt to educate the student body outside of an initial crash course when you show up here."

Johannsen said the Senate's Web site could prove beneficial for many students. The Web site, which received an overhaul this summer, is becoming a centerpiece in the Senate's efforts to improve communication with students.

Health Service already provides information about alcohol and drug use prevention on its Web site, and, according to Wong, it is actively working on expanding programs to make information about alcohol abuse more accessible to students.

"I think we do a good job at letting people know the policy" of the university as it relates to alcohol, Wong said. "I think what we need to do a better job at is really going that next step and … saying, ‘How can we prevent some of the problems we see on campus?'"

To that extent, Wong said that he would be soliciting comments from students in a meeting today with the Student Health Advisory Board on a new poster campaign that will aim to enable students to "[reach] out to other students and [talk] to [them] about alcohol in a positive way." He hopes that he can work with students to prevent substance abuse from occurring in the first place, rather than addressing its causes after the fact.

Pickard stressed that the project is still in its initial stages.

"We haven't worked out the specifics," Pickard said. "We're still thinking of what types of issues we'd like to highlight."


Sarah Butrymowicz contributed reporting to this article.