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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Condoms, Healthy Munchies, and Sage Advice

Students getting the word at UMB Health Fair. - Photo by Shaun Krisher
Students getting the word at UMB Health Fair. – Photo by Shaun Krisher

UMB’s annual Health Fair was held in the commons area of McCormack last Wednesday. The well-attended event offered solace for the soul, free condoms for the amorous, preventive health care information, free blood pressure checks, and a variety of snacks such as sugar-free lollypops, cholesterol-free ice cream, and other munchies.

Of great interest to this writer was the availability of no-nonsense information about human sexuality. I am a returning-later-in-life graduate student now pursuing creative writing. This venture is the icing on the cake after many years of practice as a family physician in the foothills of the Smoky Mountain. During those fascinating and gratifying years, I served for some time as the school physician for a thriving and popular college in my home state of South Carolina.

The students I saw as the school physician were usually a joy to work with and well informed in many respects. Even so, one of the striking things I often noted was a remarkable ignorance about their own sexuality. The lack of information and misinformation I perceived was often accompanied by a generous burden of shame and guilt. The basic information that was often lacking included: what will and won’t get someone pregnant, what can and can’t transmit a sexually transmitted disease, where to go to get an abortion, and other information regarding reproductive health services.

I particularly appreciated, then, this health fair. The health services represented featured not just general health information, but condoms as well as cholesterol-free snacks and clear and comprehensible information on a great variety of birth control. Pamphlets were available on breast and testicular self-examinations, homosexuality, abortion, masturbation, and much more, not to mention a free sports-style water container emblazoned with, “MetroGel-Vaginal Gel” courtesy of 3-M Pharmaceuticals.

Of course, being healthy isn’t limited to having an informed awareness of one’s own sexuality and being physically healthy. UMB’s Health Fair included information on many extracurricular activities and services. Organizations available included undergraduate student organizations such as the Albanian Club, the Haitian Students Association, the Ski and Snowboard Club, the Yoga Club, and more. Similarly, graduate organizations are available in a variety of disciplines and interests. Information on these can be obtained from the personable and informative Joyce Morgan at the Student Life Office. Morgan noted that her office gives to the UMB student “the opportunity to be involved outside class…to make social connections.”

Interfaith Catholic Chaplain Maggie Cahill explained the functions of her office and staff. Ms. Cahill noted that though she is Catholic, she is comfortable with and enthusiastic about counseling students of all persuasions. Being the doubting Thomas that I am, I asked Cahill, “what if the student is not Christian at all?”

Ms. Cahill had no problem with this, noting that spirituality takes many different forms.

“What if they are not spiritual at all, humanistic, or atheistic? About 17 % of the US population fits into this category.”

“They’re welcome.”

“Would you try to convert them?”

“No, I’d view it as an opportunity to journey with them.”

Doubting Thomas or not, I found Cahill to be a delight to converse with, and I suspect most students, of whatever persuasion and age, would as well.

I was quite impressed with what I saw of UMB’s health services as represented by the Health Fair. I wish more people had access to health care that is as supportive, comprehensive, professional, and accessible.