ATHENS, Ohio (March 28, 2007) -- Ohio University's Sexual Health Seminar Review Committee recently submitted three major recommendations to Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith that addressed students' concerns with the sexual health seminars offered at the university's Hudson Health Center.
The sexual health seminars issue grabbed Smith's attention at the first Ohio University Town Hall Meeting on Oct. 23, when a female student voiced her complaints about the center's policies and procedures for female students seeking gynecological services or prescription contraceptives.
The committee found that students were concerned that first-time users of Hudson's gynecological services were required to attend a two-hour sexual health seminar that educates students on reproductive health issues unless they receive a waiver. Many felt that the seminars were not offered at convenient times and the university's communication to students about the waiver process was not easily accessible.
Last fall and winter, Graduate Senate discussed those issues and passed a resolution in February that asked the university to improve the content on the Hudson Web site. The resolution said the Hudson Web site lacked adequate sexual health information and needed easily accessible information that explains the sexual health seminar waiver process.
In response to the complaints, Smith commissioned the nine-member Sexual Health Seminar Review Committee to evaluate the policies and procedures in place and recommend necessary changes to him by the end of winter quarter.
Associate Dean of Students Patti McSteen chairs the nine-member Sexual Health Committee. Other members are Student Health Services nurse practitioner Cindy Greenlee and physician Susan Righi, Director of Health Education and Wellness Char Kopchick, Brittany Buxton, Karen Greiner and Marie Thompson of Graduate Student Senate and Amanda Roder and Lee Robbins of Student Senate. Hogan said students will assist in the implementation of the recommendations.
In its report, the Sexual Health Seminar Review Committee asks for a clear communication plan that informs students about their options regarding the sexual health seminars. It also wants students to have easier access to important information about the seminars, including how to waive the seminar. Students who believe they are sufficiently knowledgeable about gynecological health can attempt to waive the seminar requirement by speaking with a Gynecological Clinic staff member.
The report suggests a better use of the Hudson Web site for sharing health-related information, including the addition of a direct link to the Web site from the students' information Web page, and easier access to the Sexual Health Seminar schedule.
The report asks for a further review of the sexual health seminars, which includes ways to make them align better with all students' needs. One recommendation is to make the seminars' offerings more flexible. This recommendation suggests separate seminars for students wanting an annual gynecological exam and those wanting a contraceptive prescription, arranging seminar times that are more conducive to students' schedules, and evaluations of the sexual health seminars that are done with the input of graduate students from health-related programs.
Finally, the report suggests the sexual health seminars be offered in a gender-inclusive format that makes them more useful to males.
"Students publicly expressed concern about access to sexual health-related services at Hudson Health Center and how they were organized and delivered," said Dean of Students Terry Hogan. "Dr. Smith charged a committee with investigating this problem and it has made some excellent recommendations that offer clarity and ways to improve the services offered to students."
Hogan said the university will address the communication problems identified by the committee by placing more sexual health information on the Hudson Web site and making it more accessible to students. He also said Student Affairs will work to add flexibility to how and when the seminars are offered, which includes satisfying the recommendation of making them more inclusive of male students.
"I think it's good that these important issues came up for discussion," Righi said. "We want the sexual health seminars to be responsive to the students."
For more information about Ohio University Student Health Services, visit www.ohio.edu/hudson.
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