Healthy Campus Summit initiates dialogue on student health


Courtesy of Campus Health

Summit participants took part in a variety of wellness activities.

Healthy Campus summit featured speakers, networking and discussion.

The Healthy Campus 2020 committee held the first-ever, day-long Healthy Campus 2017 summit on Oct. 30.

New Orleans schools like Tulane and Xavier University, in addition to universities around the country, partnered with the American College Health Association through the Healthy Campus 2020 pledge to coordinate health strategies.

The summit, which was held in the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life, featured speaker Luolo Hong, vice president for Student Affairs and Involvement Management and the Title IX coordinator at San Francisco State University.

Participants in the summit were able to network with other academic professionals, listen to keynote speakers, have discussions during breakout sessions and participate in wellness activities through short yoga breaks.

The summit was designed to promote dialogue around health, community and how Tulanians can support one another. Presentations also focused on how staff and students can facilitate discussion and organize effectively.

A major health concern administrators are facing is increasing instances of alcohol abuse on campus. After attending a presentation on alcohol and the party culture on college campuses, freshman and pre-med student Charlie Morrill said the summit opened up a dialogue about some of the negative aspects of university party culture.

“I think that this has informed me of ways I can discuss [alcohol culture] as sort of a holistic, everything approach, and it’s not just about individuals,” Morrill said.

Parts of the summit focused on how administrators can work with students to allow them to organize about issues that matter to the Tulane community. The theory presented at the summit was that when students believe they have a voice to express themselves, the campus community is healthier.

“If this is about changing the many cultures that we have, students are the culture, the students make the culture, the students change the culture,” Hong said. “And I think as administrators and as faculty we play a role in that, but it’s nowhere near as powerful as when students do it. So when students speak up and students agitate, I really see such a potential in that.”

Mia Yazaki Levine, a freshman in the HealthWave residential learning community, attended the breakout session Developing Student Leadership for Cultural Change. She recalled past interactions with students organizing.

“I’ve already signed three petitions since I got here, and it’s first semester freshman year,” Levine said. “But we don’t actually have conversations about the stuff that matters, which is a lot more important.”

Hong’s background in public health, higher education and social justice education led her to investigate the intersections among these fields.

“A lot of the negative health impacts that we see in various communities are based in the same kinds of issues that result in why we see poverty, racial injustice, gender inequity,” she said at the summit.

Scott Tims, assistant vice president for Campus Health at Tulane, shared Hong’s thoughts on the intersectionality of health and academics.

“I think that the health of our students is tied to whether or not they’re able to be academically successful, and so I want students who are coming to Tulane [to be] able to successfully navigate and manage their health in ways so they can, one, graduate and, two, go on to be successful in whatever’s next for them,” Tims said.

Tims is pushing for more student involvement in the Healthy Campus initiative and future summits. Though there were several students on the committee this year, Tims is seeking more input.

Hong is also encouraging students to get involved through non-health-related campus organizations.  

“I just see that there are so many places where students are already leaders,” Hong said. “If they were to make sure they address this and talk about ways that they could contribute to impacting these things, that could be very powerful.”

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