Health Advocacy Goes GreekPosted on: July 11, 2012 in People & Places
At the University of Arizona, the Greek community consists of men and women who belong to 51 different fraternities and sororities. The system provides opportunities for members to develop themselves in any number of areas, from academics to leadership skills to community service.
But the UA Greek system offers something that no other university in the nation has: a strategic focus on health advocacy.
“The Hunter S. White Health Advocacy Program is very unique at the University of Arizona, says Assistant Dean of Students Johanne Ives. “There is no other fraternity or sorority life office in the country that has health education programs the way that we do here.”
The Hunter S. White Health Advocacy Program
Founded in memory of a freshman who was killed in a spring break auto accident in 2001, the Hunter S. White Health Advocacy Program lets the chapters know the resources that are at the University of Arizona. If there is a member of their fraternity or sorority that is suffering from depression or that has an alcohol or drug addiction.
Lindsay Dashefsky, a graduate student in the College of Public Health, says “This peer education is really important because studies have shown that students are more likely to come and talk to their peers if they have a problem.”
Taking on such a responsibility is no small task. In fact, it is an essential chapter function.
At least two members of each sorority and fraternity serve as chapter health advocates, providing support and information regarding health issues to their peers. As part of their responsibilities, these individuals provide participate in campus and/or Greek awareness events related to health issues, hold special office hours, attend meetings and give presentations. They must also write a short paper reflecting on their experiences as health advocate at the end of each semester.
Zak Tolley, a senior majoring in public health and the health advocate for Delta Lambda Phi, says that the program has certainly affected his outlook, as well as his desire to be a resource for his chapter brothers.
“I’ve smoked hookah before and I didn’t think it was that bad, but after Lindsay’s presentation, I wouldn’t even consider it now. Whenever I’m sitting in Lindsay’s presentations, I think of how I can use this information to make myself more healthy, and to give health advice to people who might ask for it.”
And as a public health major, the Hunter S. White program was right where he wanted to be.
“When I found out that they had a health advocacy program, I was really excited because it fits right into my major of public health and I really love getting people motivated to improve their health.”
Tolley’s experience and dedication exemplify the pillars of fraternity and sorority life at the UA: scholarship, leadership and involvement, brotherhood and sisterhood, and service.