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Student Health

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Crazy, Super, Cool
CURRENTS Article With 2016 coming to a close, Currents wanted to reflect on this year’s amazing innovations at universities around the world. Our favorites include a pizza ATM, software to help you pronounce names, innovative helmets, windows made with wood, and microchips engraved with donor names sent into space.

Quote of Note
CURRENTS Article Chris Harris-Wimsatt, director of the Seita Scholars Program at Western Michigan University, about the winter break reality some students face when university housing closes and their foster care placement has ended.

Outlook: Hungry to Learn
CURRENTS Article A growing number of college students aren't bright-eyed, newly minted high school graduates. They're seasoned adults with greater financial responsibilities, including a family of their own. These older students are more likely to lead complex lives as parents and caregivers for elders. What do they need to persist toward their educational goals? Tuition, books, and supplies? Yes, plus affordable child care, low-cost apartment-style housing, and economical, nutritious food sources. Too many college students already face a choice between paying for rent or textbooks, food or tuition. To address hunger, some institutions, including Oregon State University, operate food pantries and assist students in applying for food stamps. Others offer food voucher programs and enable students to donate unused meal plan credits to others in need. How else should higher education respond to these challenges? Containing tuition costs certainly helps. Addressing the full cost of attendance—including expenses for housing, food, and dependent care—is critical.

By The Numbers: Making Helmets Cool
CURRENTS Article California's Stanford University has a serious bicycle culture, yet not enough students wear helmets. In fall 2016, a Stanford parent and lecturer gave every freshman a Stanford-branded helmet, modeled after those worn by the institution's football team. If enough students wear them, he plans to repeat the giveaway next year.

When a Student Dies
CURRENTS Article No matter the cause, a student's death can scar a campus. When a fatal incident occurs, communicating with clarity and care are essential but certainly not easy tasks. Planning and practice are crucial to handling such sensitive situations and developing responses that inform and support the deceased person's family, friends, the campus community, and the institution's various audiences.

When ‘Like’ Meets Loss
CURRENTS Article An institution's crisis communication plan should include social media. It's important to discuss how these platforms may be used before a situation occurs. Twitter, Facebook, and other channels should not, for instance, be the primary source of information, but they are useful for providing updates and spreading news, such as communicating whether the campus is safe and directing people to a university website to learn more about unfolding events. Brief messages like these assure people that more information is coming. They can also reassure friends and family members who do not receive the campus's emergency notifications.

Talking Points: Access for All
CURRENTS Article Improving your efforts to enroll students with disabilities will enhance the education you provide to all students. The process for obtaining accommodations varies per institution, but it begins with a student's request. Too often, the onus is on students to prove their disability—a problem for those who might not know how to advocate for themselves. Typically only one office on campus handles accommodations for students with disabilities, but the education of all students is the responsibility of everyone at the institution. Here are a few ways to improve accessibility on your campus.

Talking Points: Sensitivity Training
CURRENTS Article University communicators must know how to discuss campus sexual assault in a way that supports prevention efforts on campuses, respects students, and adheres to civil rights law.

Talking Points: Caulking the Cracks in Campus Safety
CURRENTS Article The National Center for Campus Public Safety will open this spring at the University of Vermont and serve as a clearinghouse for safety-related research and resources supplied by many campuses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Campuses will be able to consult the center for practices to combat alcohol and substance abuse, sexual assault, and other violent crimes. The NCCPS also will house information about identifying mental health problems and effective intervention procedures.

Outlook: Train the Trainer
CURRENTS Article Obesity is a global problem, and some colleges and universities have taken steps to address it on their campus by, for example, limiting access to unhealthy foods. How far should institutions go in promoting wellness?

Talking Points: The Blues Clues
CURRENTS Article The media coverage of campus suicide tragedies is just the most recent indication of what seems to be an increasing problem on campuses everywhere. It's also something that administrators have to pay close attention to--as a policy-setting issue, as a safety issue, as a parent issue, and as a student health issue. This article, adapted from a National Mental Health Association/Jed Foundation report, describes the nature of the problem, including who's at risk, what campuses should do, and how to safeguard against suicide. The article offers insight on how prevalent suicide is, outlines necessary campus services, and encourages campuses to do a thorough self-assessment of the services already in place.

When Silence Speaks Volumes
CURRENTS Article The devastating effect of AIDS on Africa’s universities is made even worse by administrators’ reluctance to deal with or even acknowledge the crisis. A case study of seven African universities explores the reasons behind institutions’ inadequate response and describes the impact of AIDS on enrollment, admissions, staffing, and institutional finances. The study provides lessons for campus communicators, strategic planners, and other administrators at institutions worldwide.

AdvanceWork: A Population at Risk
CURRENTS Article Campuses should tell students about the risk of meningitis and the benefits of the vaccine

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