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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Petition created to hire OB/GYN

From left to right: Sara Hoffman ’19, Molly Mullen ’19 and Catherin Geruson ’19, who brought forward their concerns about the lack of women’s health resources on campus (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

Students voice anger over Health Center staffing

A University Student Senate (USS) petition to hire a full-time OB/GYN at the Student Health Center has over 750 signatures as of Oct. 22.

The former director of the Health Center, who had women’s health care experience, left in June to take another position and a second employee who served as a women’s health care practitioner is also no longer at the university. As reported in the Oct. 10 issue of The Hawk, the university would not comment on the second employee’s departure, or acknowledge the position existed.

Catherine Geruson ’19, Molly Mullen ’19 and Sara Hoffman ’19 said they brought their concerns about the lack of women’s health resources on campus to USS members, who decided to circulate a petition to force the university to make a hire.

“Having a gynecologist on campus is a necessary component of providing health care on campus to all students,” Mullen said. “To not provide a necessary healthcare for more than 50 percent of the students on the campus is a disregard for their dignity.”

USS speaker Elaine Estes ’19 said once USS was made aware of the students’ concerns, they created a formal petition.

“With the petition we just wanted to show administration that this is an issue that a lot of students are concerned about,” Estes said.

Eliminating the women’s health care practitioner position and the services that the position provided was a shocking reality, Hoffman said. Filling the role and finding a replacement should have already happened, she said.

Geruson said she also was taken aback by the apparent elimination of the position.

“I think it is just such a blatant disregard for a critical need,” she said.

Geruson, Hoffman and Mullen all said it was important to voice their opinion on this issue.

“It is just another example of a student resource that students here depend on and are ultimately now unable to go to,” Geruson said. “It just seems like they’re trying to cut so many little things and this is kind of essential.”

The petition, which was created on Oct. 16, asks “Saint Joseph’s University to immediately begin the search to hire a fulltime OB/GYN to work in the SJU Student Health Center and begin practicing by the start of the Spring 2019 semester.”

Those who signed the petition were allowed to give a reason for signing it. Some used the comments section of the petition to voice anger about the issue.

“As an incoming freshman, I was told that SJU was accepting and supported equal rights,” Lillian Reilly ’22 wrote. “By not having an OB/GYN full-time, that hinders my right to health care at college.”

While the St. Joe’s Student Health Center is currently without an OB/GYN, Mullen was interested in knowing how the decision was made.

“I am not able to picture a room full of women making this decision, whereas I can more easily picture a room full of men making this decision,” she said.

Kiersten White, Ed.D. assistant vice president of Student Life, who has been overseeing the Health Center until a new director is named, said she could only respond to emailed questions on this matter.

In an email to The Hawk she said, “This is a really critical time for some Student Health Center items, and I may be limited with what I’m able to discuss at this point.”

White did not respond to emailed questions by press time.

The university also has not yet responded to the petition.

“I think to me it [the petition] was a meaningful representation of people who care about the issue, but I wonder what amount of attention the university sees as necessary to take action,” Mullen said.

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    EmilyOct 25, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Is there a way for alumni to sign the petition?