Co-sponsored by SASS, Tri-Delta, and SHAG, Women’s Wellness Month spanned the month of February. It included a women’s yoga and meditation workshop with Professor Jen Smith of the Knox Dance Department, an informational meeting on HPV with Dr. Shaw from the Galesburg Clinic, and a session on nutrition with Knox Assistant Athletic Trainer Jessica Groth.
“[The goal was] to educate the women on campus. I wanted something that was annual that we could have on campus. All anyone talks about [in women’s health] is dieting, anorexia, and bulimia, and I wanted to get away from that and talk about the real things women talk about. I wanted to bring in the women faculty on campus also, not just students. We all have the same issues as women,” said Tri Delta Chair of Philanthropy Salleha Chaudhry.
Chaudry first developed the idea of a women’s health oriented month at the beginning of January before bringing it to SASS. The individual sessions of the month-long event were organized in the hope of bringing together all of the women of the Knox campus regardless of age.
“In my opinion, the most successful event was the HPV presentation. It had the most diverse audience (including Tri-Delta members, SASS members, and other women who are not in either group), and it was the most feminist event,” said senior Ellen Vessels from SASS.
The informational session was led by Dr. Shaw, an OBGYN from the Galesburg Clinic who takes appointments at the on-campus health center.
“At the meeting, we also asked Dr. Shaw to try and make emergency contraception available at the health center. Emergency contraception is now an over-the-counter drug, but it is very time sensitive. It is best taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Because it is not currently available at the health center, women without cars have to rely on their friends to take them to the drug store, which is a problem not only because of the time-sensitive nature of the drug, but because of privacy issues involved in borrowing someone else’s car to deal with your health situation,” said Vessels.
“I think the second event, where Dr. Shaw came in and talked about HPV and Gardisil, was the most successful,” said Salleha Chaudhry of Tri Delta. “HPV is a huge deal right now. We had about 35 people show up. Our first event we had a yoga session, and that was also pretty successful. It was in the aux gym. We personally invited all the women faculty.”
Though it was important to the organizers to incorporate female faculty, the message of Women’s Wellness Month was geared towards female students.
“You go through a lot of changes in college. [Female students] just put their health aside,” said Chaudhry. “For issues like the HPV shot, a lot of people had no idea what it was about.”
In light of the importance of women’s health and the positive response to the month-long event, having a Women’s Wellness Month next year seems a possibility.
“I’m definitely planning on having one next year. I would like to do a survey prior to see what women want to talk about. That’s something I would do differently. I would like to implement more faculty and maybe have an event that Galesburg high school girls could participate in. I mean, we were 16 only two years ago. We’re all going through the same issues,” said Chaudhry about the possibility of organizing a second annual Women’s Wellness Month. SASS has already had several other health-oriented events this year, including the Guerilla Gynecology workshop and the Alternative Menstrual Product Workshop.
“Currently SASS is in the midst of planning a massive schedule for next term, including a photo exhibit, Take Back the Night, and an all-day outdoor women’s/feminist music festival,” Vessels said.