Administration must increase sexual health services

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • January 26, 2012

At issue: 

Class of 2015 President Ben Halls to lead dialogue on campus STD testing.

Our take: 

Center for Health and Wellness should put health and wellness first.

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It’s an Emerson tradition. Hundreds of the freshest freshmen filed into the Cutler Majestic Theatre. There, they are told to forget their high school lovers and taught how to use the power of eye contact to land the hotties with lanyards around their necks.

Each year Emerson invites the infamous Date Doctor to introduce—and basically encourage—healthy sexual encounters between dorm neighbors and Quidditch teammates. 

But, besides a wagging finger reminding us to be safe and wrap it up, the college fails to protect sexually active students by providing screenings for sexually transmitted diseases in the Center for Health and Wellness. 

At Emerson’s health center, students are not tested for STDs unless a clinician evaluates them and identifies clear symptoms. This means that a responsible student who comes to the health center hoping for a bit of solace would be told to go to an off-campus provider for an STD test—reducing our campus medical facility to a place where little more than strep throat is diagnosed. 

Without an accessible STD testing program, the health center falls short of the services provided by other colleges in the area, including Boston University, Northeastern University, and Harvard University. On matters as important as our health and peace of mind, Emerson’s administration cannot be outpaced. Every possible measure must be explored to ensure our tuition covers access to full sexual health testing. 

Ben Halls, the class of 2015 president, seems to understand that students shouldn’t have to use off-campus facilities to receive basic medical care, saying that a solution is necessary and he hopes to begin a dialogue with the campus clinic.

We urge Halls to follow through with more than just talk. If administrators at the health center fail to take this up as an initiative, Halls should spearhead a grassroots campaign for proper STD testing services. 

In the meantime, there are free clinics, general care providers, or The Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center located at the center of our Boylston Street campus. Don’t allow Emerson’s failure to provide screenings prevent you from getting tested. If you’re active, be proactive.