By: Madison Ruffo
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- DePaul University, one of the two other Vincentian universities in the United States, has recently introduced testing for sexually transmitted infections (STI) to its students after a student-led initiative to expand the services provided by their student health center.
Led by student-body President Nahal Hashemian and Claire Kaczanowski, DePaul’s Senator for the College of Science and Health, this initiative aimed to make STI testing free and accessible to students on a quarterly basis. While DePaul’s onsite student health center provided quarterly HIV testing to students, prior to this change STI testing was only offered through an off-site partnership with Present Sage, a Chicago-based organization, if a student was showing acute symptoms of an STI.
Launched in early 2019, DePaul now has partnerships with Calor and Lurie Children’s Hospital, two additional Chicago-based resources, that provide students with quarterly HIV and STI testing.
It is safe to say that Hashemian and Kaczanowski, along with their peers, achieved their intended goal of expanding student health services to encompass sexual health.
“I believe we’ve accomplished an incredible amount in a short period of time, but reform and ultimately establishing a more permanent and constant solution would be the end goal,” said Hashemian.
“The large turnout of students at the event confirmed the demand for this offering in the future,” said Kaczanowski.
Aside from sexual health, DePaul also provides services regarding Women’s health which provide resources for self care, general sexual health and sexual violence.
This reform taking place at one of our sister-schools brings to light the resources, or rather lack-thereof, for sexual health provided by Niagara University. While the easy argument can be made that premarital sexual activity doesn’t align with NU’s Vincentian values, that argument is now moot after the actions taken at DePaul. Both Hashemian and Kaczanowski describe DePaul’s administration as “eager” to seize this opportunity to better care for their students.
“DePaul knows and understands the needs of students, and while some resources are not ‘aligned’ with our Catholic mission, [they] have begun to act on finding a middle ground, which I believe to be a momentous step,” commented Hashemian.
DePaul is the first Vincentian university to provide such expansive resources for sexual health to its students, but it is not the first Catholic university to do so. In fact, of the Top Ten Catholic universities in the country – as ranked by College Choice – nine of them provide STI testing.
A 2015 study showed that the age group of 15 to 24 year olds accounted for 53 percent of the 395,000 reported cases of gonorrhea, and 65 percent of the 1.5 million reported cases of chlamydia for that year. Seuxally transmitted infections, while not immediately life-threatening, can lead to serious or sometimes fatal symptoms if gone untreated.
While NU prides itself on its Vincentian values, it also prides itself on its commitment to its students. However student life stretches far beyond the classroom, and if NU truly cares for the health and wellbeing of its student body then it will follow DePaul’s lead.
Featured image by Bru-No under Pixabay License.