Along with a slate of other initiatives, Student Government Board announced Tuesday night that Pitt is planning to launch an opioid abuse recovery program for students.
Wellness Chair Malcolm Juring made the announcement at SGB’s weekly meeting that Marian Vanek, the director of the Wellness Center, told him he could announce the initiation of the new program.
Though Pitt has yet to release any plans for the program, Juring said he and Board member Alyssa Laguerta met with Vanek on Friday, Nov. 11, for a routine meeting where Vanek told the SGB members about the program.
Few details about the initiative, however — including how it would operate or when it would formally begin — were immediately available. Juring said that he could not provide any more information about the program other than saying administrators were planning it since details are not yet finalized.
“All that is set in stone is that it is going to happen and that we were allowed to announce that, but there are no more details that are ready,” he said.
Juring said that he expects there will be more information available by the end of the semester and that there will be a formal announcement about the program once more details are arranged.
Vanek could not be reached late Tuesday night to elaborate on the program or Pitt’s plans for it.
Yet, while details were sparse, Juring’s announcement comes at a time when opioid abuse is at an all-time high in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania. According to the group OverdoseFreePA, which tracks deaths caused by opioid overdoses, more than 2,300 people have died from overdoses since 2008, with 424 of those occurring last year. Since July 2016, the most recent month there is data for, 252 people have died from an overdose, a pace that could exceed last year’s total.
While discussions about the opioid abuse recovery program are still underway, Laguerta also announced that SGB and the Female Empowerment Group, which was started as a part of SGB’s Empowerment Task Force, will launch a campaign to push women’s and reproductive health next semester.
Laguerta said the campaign will focus on education, outreach and marketing of services available to women at the Wellness Center.
“I feel very strongly about women’s health, especially on a college campus,” Laguerta said. “Regardless of who you are and what you do, being a woman and taking care of your body is of the utmost importance.”
Laguerta said that the campaign will likely begin in January or February but that it will be an ongoing effort. The campaign would like to include a discussion with a representative from the Wellness Center and a gynecologist so that students can ask questions, even if they don’t feel the question is urgent enough to warrant an appointment.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women should have their first gynecologist visit between 13 and 15 years old to focus on education and preventive practices. It is recommended that women 21 or older visit the gynecologist annually for a pelvic examination as well as an internal examination if the patient desires.
“They have gynecologists on staff to see us, so there should be nothing holding you back from having a regular checkup,” Laguerta said.
Laguerta said they are planning to collect and release data about the proportion of women on campus who are sexually active and the proportion of women who visit a gynecologist.
“Oftentimes, I find myself just telling my friends this is a service that’s available,” she said. “I think in my time at the University, the Student Health Center has played an instrumental role in my health.”
In other news, the academic affairs committee, the wellness committee, the student empowerment task force and Board member Samantha Jankowitz are working to make sure students remember their health during finals week.
Throughout the week of Nov. 28, members of SGB will be tabling in Towers lobby to promote self-care and positivity during the end of the semester. They will be handing out flyers and some giveaways outlining extended study hours and locations, information about the counseling center and other health resources on campus and healthy habits to follow during finals week, such as engaging in “healthy sleep.”
They will also be promoting a “positivity chain” where students can write down a positive moment from their day. Jankowitz said the goal is to hang the chain in Hillman Library, the William Pitt Union and the Stress Free Zone, depending on how long the chain becomes.
“It’s encouraging students to take a moment out of their day to focus on things that make them happy or something fabulous that happened that day,” Jankowitz said.
Jankowitz said the tabling initiatives will target first-year students who may be overwhelmed by their finals and may not know the best way to get through the week. When she was a first-year, she said, she didn’t know that finals week could be fun or that there were study spots outside of Hillman.
“It’s so hard to remember the extended hours,” she said. “Even just having it on a piece of paper could give someone peace of mind.”
Pittsburgh Club Baseball requested $1,950 for league dues in order to participate in the National competition. SGB approved the request in full. Pittsburgh Club Baseball also requested $1,675 for equipment. The board approved in full.
Women’s Volleyball Club requested $4,110.03 for an invitational in Texas. The board approved $4,030.03 and denied $80.
Some of God’s Children requested $1,400 for instrumentalists for their winter concert. The board approved the request in full.
Catholic Newman Club requested $1,716 for a conference in Texas. The board approved in full.
The American Marketing Association requested $3,061.82 for a competition in New Orleans. The board approved in full.
Pitt Men’s Club Basketball requested $1,295.36 for a tournament. The board approved in full.
Pitt Club Field Hockey requested $1,837.83 for a national tournament in Virginia Beach. The board approved in full.
Pitt Dance Ensemble requested $2,456.92 for their fall show. The board approved in full.
The Engineering Students Council requested $11,703.33 for their annual budget. The board approved $6,834.70.