By Bina Davidson on behalf of Features Staff
Each month, the YU Observer aims to highlight one club available to the YU undergraduate community. For the April issue, the YU Observer is highlighting “Health Education for Students Society (HESS)”.
Club Name: Health Education for Students Society (HESS)
Heads: Shayna Herszage & Sarah Liberow
Relevant Campus(es): Beren — but hoping to expand!
What is your club’s mission statement?: Health Education for Students Society aims to educate students about sexual and reproductive health and well-being on both physical and mental levels.
Why is this club important?: Issues of consent, sexual hygiene, STDs and vaccinations are kept under the rug for fear of provoking sexual activity, when these topics desperately need to be addressed and can save and change lives. Therefore, HESS is important because it aims to break the silence around sexual health and bring awareness to students by connecting them with physicians, hosting informative events, and providing resources to students.
What was your pull to get involved in/start the club?: Before starting this club, we had both had conversations with our peers on Beren Campus in which it had become overtly clear that many people in our lives are dating, engaged, or even married and still missing key aspects of reproductive health knowledge. Over the summer, we spread a confidential survey around among YU students to learn more about their reproductive health education backgrounds. Almost 70% of YU students reported that they never had an adequate sexual and reproductive health education in their schooling. This is problematic because sexual health doesn’t start or stop with sexual activity, and as it is relevant to everyone regardless of marital status, we decided to make this club to start addressing these issues.
What are some things your club has done in the past?: This year, we’ve been so lucky to have an amazing board and an incredible set of events as our club has gotten off the ground. Our events have addressed topics such as the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, period poverty, development of gender and sexual identity, contraception options and halakha, infertility, sexual assault, and what happens at an appointment with a gynecologist.
What are some plans you have for this semester/future semesters?: In the fall semester, we are hoping to organize a period product drive at Stern to complement our period poverty awareness event this past semester. We are also hoping to expand our club with a branch on the Wilf Campus run by Wilf students!
What is your favorite OSL-provided food for club events?: Unfortunately, HESS has not yet had the chance to run an on-campus event. For now, however, our favorite event food is whatever snacks people bring to their screens.
With COVID, how is your club adjusting?: On one hand, virtual events have been a difficult experience because they may sometimes feel impersonal. However, we have found some upsides as well. For example, we feel that the virtual platform has been able to help people feel comfortable attending events they might not attend in person. Making sure a HESS event is a safe space is so important in order for students to be able to learn more about these topics.
What is your advice to someone looking to get involved on campus?: Don’t be afraid to go after what you’re passionate about. Starting a club like HESS, which deals with such a sensitive range of topics, was definitely not easy. After months of planning, we got HESS approved, brought together a board, organized events, and we’re proud to be looking back on a year of amazing HESS events and looking to the future. If you care about bringing a cause to fruition, take action! It might be difficult and you might not always get 100% approval from those around you, but it only takes one person to start something new.
Anything else to say about your club:
For those interested in joining HESS’s board (SCW) for the 2021-2022 year, apply here.
For those interested in starting HESS’s brother branch on the Wilf Campus, apply here.
Are you a YU undergraduate club head interested in seeing your club featured in a future edition? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your club name and the names of the club heads!