c/o Sabine Geary, Contributing Photographer

c/o Sabine Geary, Contributing Photographer

The Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), a committee of students and staff that seeks to address the health needs of the University’s student body, is looking for new student members to revitalize the group. While the COVID-19 pandemic made it challenging for the group to meet in the fall semester, an interdepartmental effort from the directors of the University’s health offices seeks to increase student involvement in SHAC. 

As a liaison to the student body and the health and wellness offices on campus, including the Davison Health Center, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the Office of Health Education (WesWell), and the Office of Support, Healing, Activism and Prevention Education (SHAPE), SHAC aims to tackle campus health issues via student and staff collaboration. Students belonging to the classes of 2023, 2024, and 2025 and graduate students are encouraged to join the SHAC. The application to join the committee, which can be found on the SHAC website, will close on Monday, Feb. 21.

“We strive to improve services for students based on feedback coming from SHAC membership,” Director of University Health Center and SHAC co-chair Joyce Walter wrote in an email to The Argus. “Most SHAC members are involved in other campus groups and leadership and understand the most pressing health issues as determined by their peers.”

Walter highlighted that by engaging with University health officials and their respective offices, students can better advocate for needed programming and resources on campus.

“We ask students to tell us what they believe are the most pressing health concerns for other students,” Walter wrote. “We want a diverse committee of students who have varied interests so we are not focusing on one specific health topic.”

Medical Director Dr. Tom McLarney elaborated on the working relationship between the students and staff members of SHAC.

“I have had the privilege to get to know the members of SHAC over the years,” McLarney wrote in an email to The Argus. “Some of these students have gone on to health related careers. A number of them have spoken to me about their futures. I am passionate about the field of medicine. I very much enjoy speaking to the students about the different fields they can go into and even the practical aspects such as what to expect during a medical school interview.”

In the past, student members of SHAC have worked on various projects to help connect their peers with available medical resources. Director of SHAPE Johanna DeBari recounted past SHAC efforts to spread sexual education awareness as well as the delivery of winter cold and flu and spring allergy care packages to ill students. 

DeBari explained that this semester, SHAC will be dividing its members into subcommittees, with one for each health office (Davison Health Center, CAPS, WesWell, and SHAPE). The subcommittee model will provide students with the chance to work closely with members of the University’s health care community and develop projects that interest them. 

“Depending on which topic of interest folks are most drawn to, the tasks they’re working on could be different,” DeBari wrote in an email to The Argus. “For SHAPE, one idea I have is some type of passive programming campaign on the values of restorative and transformative justice—to get the word out more widely about these values, and how we create more space for these conversations on campus.”

CAPS Director Jennifer D’Andrea emphasized that she is looking forward to reassembling SHAC and getting back to the student-staff collaboration.

“It’s wonderful to work with a group of students who are committed to addressing health-related issues at Wesleyan,” D’Andrea wrote in an email to The Argus. “In the past, SHAC has been an invaluable resource for connecting CAPS with the student community and helping us to better understand how we can develop services and programs that meet students’ mental health needs.”


Rachel Wachman can be reached at rwachman@wesleyan.edu.

Aaron Goldberg can be reached at apgoldberg@wesleyan.edu.