The Crimson White: Health Edition, March 2022

While college students are young, we are not invincible. In this edition, The Crimson White discusses how health is more than just eating vegetables and burning calories — and what we can all do to create a healthier campus.

While college students are young, we are not invincible. In this edition, The Crimson White discusses how health is more than just eating vegetables and burning calories — and what we can all do to create a healthier campus.

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THURSDAY, MARCH 3, <strong>2022</strong><br />


While college students are young, we are not invincible.<br />

In this edition, <strong>The</strong> <strong>Crimson</strong> <strong>White</strong> discusses how health<br />

is more than just eating vegetables and burning calories<br />

— and what we can all do to create a healthier campus.<br />

Report on Gordon Palmer Hall reveals health risks<br />

From the outside, Gordon Palmer<br />

Hall is just another building on the<br />

University of Alabama campus. For<br />

more than 50 years,UA students have<br />

attended classes at 505 Hackberry<br />

Lane to learn about psychology and<br />

the human decision-making process.<br />

Some of those students are<br />

now questioning University<br />

administration due to two<br />

departmental reviews, performed<br />

11 years apart, which revealed that<br />

Gordon Palmer Hall poses a health<br />

risk to everyone inside.<br />

More than 11 years after the first<br />

report, nothing has changed.<br />

‘Dreary at best’<br />

Cory Armstrong, Caroline<br />

Boxmeyer and Marcia Hay-<br />

McCutcheon are members of the<br />

Academic Program Review Team, a<br />

group of UA employees selected to<br />

review departments at the University.<br />

In October 2021, they conducted a<br />

review of the psychology department<br />

located within Gordon Palmer Hall.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y co-authored a report that<br />

was released to department faculty in<br />

November 2021. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Crimson</strong> <strong>White</strong><br />

obtained the report in January <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

<strong>The</strong> report first noted that the<br />



psychology department is in a “time<br />

of transition” with professor and<br />

department Chair Thompson Davis<br />

beginning in summer 2021.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Academic Program Review<br />

Team previously conducted a<br />

departmental review in 2011 and<br />

concluded that significant issues<br />

exist, including mold and asbestos.<br />

“This space is badly in need of<br />

renovation — both from a cosmetic<br />

perspective and from a functional<br />

needs perspective,” the 2011 report<br />

stated. “<strong>The</strong> space is dreary at best,<br />

and the current layout is not optimal<br />

for the current activities within<br />

the department.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> authors of the 2011 report also<br />

raised concerns about accessibility<br />

issues for students and older adult<br />

research participants. <strong>The</strong> building<br />

has one accessible entrance, but it is<br />

located on the opposite side of the<br />

building from high-use classrooms<br />

and relevant research labs.<br />

<strong>The</strong> authors of the 2011 review<br />

recommended a complete renovation<br />

of Gordon Palmer Hall. <strong>The</strong>y toured<br />

the building during the 2021 review<br />

and found that no changes had<br />

been made.<br />

“All of the facility issues noted in<br />

2011 remain,” the report states. “In<br />

the meantime, they have escalated to<br />

present substantial health and safety<br />

risks. Recurrent mold and mildew<br />

are present in faculty offices and<br />

areas trafficked by a high volume of<br />

UA students. Faculty and students<br />

with asthma and autoimmune<br />

issues reported experiencing health<br />

problems that appear connected to<br />

spending time in the building.”<br />

<strong>The</strong>y reported pooled water<br />

inside of light fixtures that presented<br />

an electrocution risk, as well as<br />

uneven flooring. Psychology faculty<br />

members reported losing valuable<br />

data and files due to flooding.<br />

College of Arts and Sciences Dean<br />

Joseph Messina said an alternative<br />

space was offered to the department,<br />

according to the report, but faculty<br />

and students in the psychology<br />

department said they were never<br />

formally offered that space. <strong>The</strong><br />

Academic Program Review Team<br />

confirmed this through a review of<br />

email correspondence.<br />

UA spokesperson Deidre Stalnaker<br />

said this space would have been<br />

the 1 North building on the Peter<br />

Bryce Campus.<br />

“Dean Messina said he raised the<br />

idea of alternate space that would<br />

have required renovations in the 1<br />

North building on the Peter Bryce<br />

Campus to the department’s leaders,”<br />

she said. “<strong>The</strong> intra-departmental<br />

discussion did not seem to be going<br />

anywhere, and the opportunity was<br />

lost in time as the space was put to<br />

other use.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> department’s current location<br />

near the center of campus is desirable<br />

due to the large number of students<br />

it serves.<br />

‘Not a good place’<br />

Anna Bending, a graduate psychology<br />

student and president of the<br />

University’s National Honors Society<br />

psychology chapter Psi Chi, said she<br />

is continually disgusted by Gordon<br />

Palmer Hall.<br />

“It’s not a good place,” Bending<br />

said. “It just reminds me of a creepy<br />

old high school or an insane asylum.<br />

It’s very gross and very moldy. When<br />

it’s really, really hot out it gets mildewy<br />

and absolutely disgusting.”<br />

Some professors have told Bending<br />

they don’t go to their offices anymore<br />

because of mold growing on their<br />

chairs and throughout their offices.<br />

“A lot of faculty have kind of been<br />

pushed aside and told to deal with<br />

it on their own,” she said. “I know<br />

a lot of faculty have dehumidifiers<br />

if they’re going to go to the office. I<br />

know a lot of faculty who don’t even<br />

go into their offices anymore because<br />

of the state of Gordon Palmer.”<br />

Lexie Harrison, a doctoral student<br />

in the psychology department, said<br />

the mold has impacted her personally.<br />

SEE PAGE 4A<br />


5A<br />

Club<br />

SPORTS<br />

sports give<br />

student-athletes a<br />

home on campus<br />

2B<br />


<strong>Health</strong>y eating often<br />

falls on the back<br />

burner for<br />

college students<br />


Opens April 8!<br />

Visit sheltonstate.edu to apply and register!<br />

It is the policy of the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees and Shelton State Community College, a postsecondary institution under its control, that no person shall, on the grounds of race, color, national origin,<br />

religion, marital status, disability, gender, age, or any other protected class as defined by federal and state law, be excluded from participation, denied benefits, or subjected to discrimination under any program, activity, or employment.<br />

5B<br />


SB 46 is a good first<br />

step to decriminalize<br />


2A<br />


editor-in-chief<br />

managing editor<br />

engagement editor<br />

chief copy editor<br />

opinions editor<br />

news editor<br />

assistant news editor<br />

culture editor<br />

assistant culture editor<br />

sports editor<br />

assistant sports editor<br />

chief page editor<br />

chief graphics editor<br />

photo editor<br />

multimedia editor<br />

Keely Brewer<br />

editor@cw.ua.edu<br />

Bhavana Ravala<br />

managingeditor@cw.ua.edu<br />

Garrett Kennedy<br />

engagement@cw.ua.edu<br />

Jack Maurer<br />

Ava Fisher<br />

letters@cw.ua.edu<br />

Zach Johnson<br />

newsdesk@cw.ua.edu<br />

Isabel Hope<br />

Jeffrey Kelly<br />

culture@cw.ua.edu<br />

Annabelle Blomeley<br />

Ashlee Woods<br />

sports@cw.ua.edu<br />

Robert Cortez<br />

Pearl Langley<br />

Autumn Williams<br />

Lexi Hall<br />

Alex Miller<br />


creative services Alyssa Sons<br />

Tap in with CW!<br />

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Subscribe to get our newsletter in your<br />

inbox on Monday and Thursday mornings.<br />

HEALTH<br />

<strong>March</strong> 3, <strong>2022</strong><br />

ACROSS:<br />

1. Male SOs<br />

4. Serena’s frenemy in “Gossip Girl”<br />

6. Some curly-coated canines<br />

8. “<strong>The</strong> end of an ___”<br />

9. What a listener lends<br />

10. Part of Reese Phifer Hall<br />

12. Avian abodes<br />

13. Hospital network with a<br />

location on University Blvd.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Crimson</strong> Wh is the community newspaper of<br />

<strong>The</strong> University of Alabama. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Crimson</strong> <strong>White</strong> is an<br />

editorially free newspaper produced by students.<br />

<strong>The</strong> University of Alabama cannot influence editorial<br />

decisions and editorial opinions are those of the<br />

editorial board and do not represent the official<br />

opinions of the University. Advertising offices of <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>Crimson</strong> <strong>White</strong> are in room 1014, Student Media<br />

Building, 414 Campus Drive East. <strong>The</strong> advertising<br />

mailing address is Box 870170, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Crimson</strong> <strong>White</strong>, Copyright © <strong>2022</strong><br />

by <strong>The</strong> <strong>Crimson</strong> <strong>White</strong>. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Crimson</strong> <strong>White</strong> is printed<br />

monthly, August through April by <strong>The</strong> University of<br />

Alabama, Student Media, Box 870170, Tuscaloosa, AL<br />

35487. Call 205-348-7257.<br />

All material contained herein, except advertising or<br />

where indicated otherwise, is Copyright © <strong>2022</strong> by<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Crimson</strong> <strong>White</strong> and protected under the “Work<br />

Made for Hire” and “Periodical Publication” categories<br />

of the U.S. copyright laws. Material herein may not be<br />

reprinted without the expressed, written permission<br />

of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Crimson</strong> <strong>White</strong>.<br />


DOWN:<br />

1. Swollen<br />

2. Short-lived trend<br />

3. What a ghost and a rhinoceros<br />

have in common?<br />

4. B in chemistry?<br />

5. Consumes, as a story in <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>Crimson</strong> <strong>White</strong><br />

6. “___ my last email”<br />

7. Spanish Mrs.<br />

11. LA school with newspaper the<br />

Daily Trojan<br />

For crossword answers see page 5B<br />

4<br />

Tide Talks<br />

XXXV<br />

Russell Hall 159<br />

7PM<br />

8 8<br />

International<br />

Women’s Day<br />

Student<br />

<strong>Health</strong> Fair<br />

UA Student Center<br />

Plaza 10AM<br />

12<br />

Spring<br />

Break<br />

<strong>March</strong> 12 - 20<br />

Town Hall<br />

w/ Student<br />

Life and DEI<br />

Student Center<br />

Heritage Room 5PM<br />

EveryWoman<br />

Book Club<br />

22 24<br />

28<br />

Online at noon<br />

Register for<br />

Classes<br />

Registration for<br />

Summer and Fall<br />

<strong>2022</strong> begins<br />

CW / Wesley Picard

HEALTH<br />

<strong>March</strong> 3, <strong>2022</strong><br />

3A<br />

CW File<br />

OUR VIEW: Take care of yourself!<br />


<strong>Health</strong> involves every aspect of an<br />

individual’s life, and college students are<br />

tasked with taking charge of their own<br />

health for the first time.<br />

<strong>The</strong> World <strong>Health</strong> Organization<br />

defines health as “a state of complete<br />

physical, mental and social well-being<br />

and not merely the absence of disease<br />

or infirmity.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> Alabama Student Model of<br />

<strong>Health</strong> and Wellbeing gives students<br />

the opportunity to examine and<br />

improve their health holistically. <strong>The</strong><br />

model was designed by the Division of<br />

Student Life “to promote a multifaceted,<br />

developmental, and holistic approach to<br />

well-being that maximizes each student’s<br />

learning experience.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> model includes academic, career,<br />

financial, psychological, physical, social<br />

and spiritual well-being.<br />

Academic<br />

<strong>The</strong> Division of Student Life promotes<br />

academic health resources like the<br />

Capstone Center for Student Success<br />

and the First Year Experience and<br />

Retention Initiatives.<br />

For students new to the atmosphere<br />

of higher education, these resources are<br />

vital to achieving academic health. By<br />

utilizing university resources, students<br />

can demystify this process.<br />

Beyond providing a tangible benefit<br />

for students, these resources are also<br />

meaningful because of the message they<br />

send. Universities often signal to students<br />

that education is elitist and exclusionary.<br />

While students should have to work<br />

hard, any university that promotes<br />

grades and esteem over learning itself<br />

fails in its mission to educate. Equipping<br />

students with the opportunity to succeed<br />

on their own terms reminds them of the<br />

joy and gratification in learning.<br />

<strong>The</strong> University of Alabama must also<br />

consider ways to improve the academic<br />

health of its students, particularly those<br />

with chronic illnesses and disabilities.<br />

<strong>The</strong> current process of receiving<br />

accommodations from the Office of<br />

Disability Services is confusing and<br />

lengthy, discouraging disabled students<br />

from achieving true academic health.<br />

Self-advocacy is a valuable skill, but<br />

as long as students have to endure these<br />

obstacles, academic health will remain<br />

elusive. Reforming the process would<br />

require a long and unified effort, but we<br />

can start today by educating ourselves on<br />

the struggles chronically ill and disabled<br />

students face.<br />

Career<br />

Students can practice career health by<br />

developing a healthier attitude toward<br />

their future career paths. In college, there<br />

is an expectation that students are certain<br />

of their career goals and secure a job<br />

immediately after graduation. In reality,<br />

students often take months to secure<br />

employment, let alone their dream job.<br />

College students have to combat this<br />

internalized messaging. <strong>The</strong>re is no use<br />

in comparing our own journeys to others’.<br />

We have only ourselves as competition.<br />

We must learn how to enjoy this<br />

period and live presently. At one point in<br />

our lives, all we thought about was going<br />

to college. Now that we’re here, let’s take<br />

full advantage of it.<br />

<strong>The</strong> UA Career Center is the main<br />

resource on campus for students<br />

seeking to improve their career health.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Center offers a wide variety of<br />

services, including career fairs and<br />

personal counseling.<br />

While this resource is undoubtedly<br />

beneficial, many students ignore it. As<br />

college students, it can seem as though<br />

“the real world” is far away, but graduation<br />

is rapidly approaching. Finding a career<br />

doesn’t have to be a stressful process. It<br />

takes work, dedication and sometimes<br />

making many mistakes to find one’s<br />

calling. In the meantime, we can find joy<br />

in any part of our journey.<br />

Financial<br />

Financial health is one of the most<br />

difficult aspects of health to achieve.<br />

While the University offers financial<br />

aid, the financial barrier to college is not<br />

limited to the University; it is a systemic<br />

issue that saddles millions of students<br />

with debt every year.<br />

<strong>The</strong> student debt crisis has only<br />

been exacerbated by the COVID-19<br />

pandemic. Facing mass layoffs, many<br />

students decided to continue their<br />

college education, only to find that the<br />

price of college has increased by more<br />

than 25% in the last decade.<br />

Students cannot be expected to<br />

navigate this process alone. While there<br />

is no shortage of financial advice out<br />

there, much of it is not feasible for the<br />

average college student.<br />

<strong>The</strong> U.S. is facing an epidemic of poor<br />

financial literacy. When we graduate<br />

college, we must tackle our massive<br />

debt and new careers. Without the<br />

tools to navigate this process, we may<br />

face decades of mental strain to achieve<br />

financial well-being.<br />

<strong>The</strong> University must take an active<br />

approach in promoting financial literacy<br />

on campus. <strong>The</strong>re are many ways to<br />

do this, but the most obvious is to<br />

implement courses dedicated to financial<br />

literacy. <strong>The</strong> University offers a minor in<br />

personal finance, but students who can<br />

not afford the expense or the 22-credit<br />

hour commitment need alternatives.<br />

<strong>The</strong> financial literacy website is a good<br />

starting point.<br />

Psychological<br />

<strong>The</strong> resources for mental health on<br />

campus are numerous and effective,<br />

spanning multiple types of treatments<br />

tailored to each student’s needs, but<br />

there are still many ways the University<br />

can further promote mental health<br />

on campus.<br />

Despite widespread student activism,<br />

the University still falls behind in funding<br />

for the Counseling Center. It remains the<br />

only university in the SEC that charges<br />

students for therapy sessions after LSU<br />

began offering mental health services<br />

for free.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Student Government Association<br />

passed a resolution last year calling for<br />

increased funding for the center, but the<br />

resolution has seen little action since.<br />

Rhetoric promoting student mental<br />

health isn’t enough. <strong>The</strong> University must<br />

take an active role in promoting mental<br />

health on campus. <strong>The</strong> lives and wellbeing<br />

of students depend on it.<br />

Physical<br />

<strong>The</strong> University of Alabama boasts<br />

many spaces where students can enjoy<br />

physical activity. <strong>The</strong> exercise machines<br />

offered at the Student Recreation<br />

Center, coupled with engaging group<br />

classes, allow students to take charge of<br />

their fitness.<br />

But physical health extends beyond<br />

fitness and diet. <strong>The</strong> most pressing<br />

physical health concern for college<br />

students is lack of sleep.<br />

According to the Centers for Disease<br />

Control and Prevention, 35% of adults<br />

do not get enough sleep. For college<br />

students, this metric is no surprise.<br />

We regularly sacrifice sleep for our<br />

education, performing all-nighters just<br />

to achieve the grades we desire.<br />

This lack of sleep to achieve success<br />

is a norm in college. It contributes to an<br />

overarching “hustle culture” that values<br />

productivity over well-being.<br />

Burnout must not be glamorized.<br />

We can combat this culture in our own<br />

lives by confronting this rhetoric. When<br />

you hear someone brag about their lack<br />

of sleep, don’t engage in a battle of who<br />

slept the least. Instead, encourage those<br />

around you to value their sleep schedules.<br />

A full sleep schedule, rather than<br />

robbing us of our time, allows us the<br />

energy to perform to the best of our<br />

ability. Sacrificing our basic needs isn’t<br />

strength. Strength is found in our ability<br />

to recognize our needs and honor our<br />

minds and bodies.<br />

Social<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are many opportunities for<br />

students to improve their social health<br />

on campus.<br />

<strong>The</strong> main obstacle to pursuing social<br />

health is ourselves. In high school, we<br />

had the luxury of seeing our friends every<br />

day. When we’re in charge of our own<br />

schedules, maintaining adult friendships<br />

becomes more difficult.<br />

<strong>The</strong> best thing students can do to<br />

improve their social health is to meet<br />

new people. This task can be daunting<br />

and exhausting, but it is the only way to<br />

cultivate meaningful connections.<br />

Students often have limited mindsets<br />

about social interaction, falsely believing<br />

that friendships are only worth pursuing<br />

during their freshman year. In truth,<br />

most people want to feel appreciated and<br />

valued. <strong>The</strong> best way to make friends is<br />

to extend these feelings to others, and<br />

you will surely receive them in return.<br />

<strong>The</strong> objective of social interaction<br />

doesn’t have to be gaining a lifelong<br />

friend. It can simply be to serve others.<br />

When we think of how we can improve<br />

the lives of those on campus in our daily<br />

interactions, we will create a healthier,<br />

more enjoyable campus culture.<br />

Spiritual<br />

<strong>The</strong> University of Alabama benefits<br />

from many religious organizations. <strong>The</strong><br />

SOURCE is a great way for students of all<br />

religious backgrounds to connect.<br />

However, the University can further<br />

promote spiritual health by recognizing<br />

the diversity of spirituality that exists<br />

on campus.<br />

To promote the experience of all<br />

students, we must implement religionfriendly<br />

practices in all aspects of<br />

campus, from classrooms that permit<br />

prayer breaks to dining hall menus that<br />

offer religion-friendly menus.<br />

In 2019, the SGA Executive Cabinet<br />

announced the placement of a prayer<br />

mat in the UA Student Center Quiet<br />

Reflection Room for students who<br />

need a place to pray. <strong>The</strong>se kinds of<br />

considerations and actions go a long way<br />

to make our campus a more accessible<br />

place for all.<br />

Conclusion<br />

<strong>Health</strong> is a comprehensive concept. If<br />

we are to truly achieve health in our own<br />

lives, and on campus, we must address all<br />

its aspects.<br />

While the Alabama Student Model<br />

of <strong>Health</strong> and Wellbeing divides health<br />

into seven aspects, true health is some<br />

combination of these traits. Actions<br />

that promote physical health are bound<br />

to inspire mental health. Habits that<br />

improve academic health now will<br />

improve career health in the future.<br />

To view health critically, we must<br />

understand that continued growth, while<br />

an admirable goal, isn’t the ultimate<br />

end result of healthy habits. When<br />

we relentlessly pursue growth, we can<br />

quickly become fixated on the flaws in<br />

our lives. We can become dissatisfied<br />

with our comfort.<br />

We must view healthy habits as a<br />

slow process, and forgive ourselves for<br />

the ways we fall short. We are not alone<br />

in pursuing health. A healthy campus<br />

will involve the collaboration of many<br />

dedicated individuals.<br />

We often say we are a family at <strong>The</strong><br />

University of Alabama. Let’s make this<br />

true, offering support and guidance<br />

for the health of our peers, campus<br />

and community.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Crimson</strong> <strong>White</strong> Editorial Board is composed of Editorin-Chief<br />

Keely Brewer, Managing Editor Bhavana Ravala,<br />

Engagement Editor Garrett Kennedy, Chief Copy Editor Jack<br />

Maurer and Opinions Editor Ava Fisher.

4A<br />

<strong>The</strong> Academic Program Review Team released a report on Gordon Palmer Hall in November 2021. CW / David Gray<br />


“<strong>The</strong> mold is something that I<br />

personally had to deal with,” Harrison<br />

said. “Even trying to get tiles replaced in<br />

that office space that we're in took over a<br />

month to get the mold out of our office.<br />

We had to contact people multiple times<br />

to get it removed.”<br />

Harrison works in a narrow space<br />

and said the poor conditions can be a<br />

problem for those spending long hours<br />

in the space.<br />

Besides the mold, Bending said<br />

the overall condition of Gordon<br />

Palmer Hall is not conducive to a<br />

learning environment.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re are almost no outlets,” she said.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re’s literally chairs that are broken.<br />

You go into some of the classrooms<br />

and the AC is so broken that we walk<br />

in and it feels like you walked into a<br />

sweat room.”<br />

‘Into the future’<br />

<strong>The</strong> November 2021 report was<br />

shared with University administration,<br />

but the authors have not received<br />

a response.<br />

<strong>The</strong> review recommended<br />

“addressing the department’s aging and<br />

unsafe facilities as soon as possible, while<br />

minimizing disruptions to teaching<br />

and research,” revisiting discussions<br />

about moving to an alternative space,<br />

and developing formal spaces for the<br />

research centers housed within Gordon<br />

Palmer Hall.<br />

UA spokesperson Shane Dorrill said<br />

that UA Facilities and Grounds are not<br />

aware of any current mold issues in<br />

Gordon Palmer Hall.<br />

Dorrill said the University has<br />

made some improvements, including<br />

inspecting all HVAC systems, inspecting<br />

for leaks, checking roof systems,<br />

installing dehumidifiers, replacing<br />

fluorescent light bulbs with LEDs and<br />

adding new paint to some rooms.<br />

Bending said she feels that the<br />

University is not putting effort into<br />

upgrading Gordon Palmer Hall<br />

because of financial disparity despite<br />

the psychology program bringing in<br />

significant donations.<br />

<strong>The</strong> psychology department<br />

generated $5.56 million in external<br />

grant awards in 2020 and $4.56 million<br />

in external grant awards in 2021, making<br />

it the top-earning department in the<br />

College of Arts and Sciences, placing it<br />

among the top 10 grant-earning units at<br />

the University.<br />

Since 2011, the department has<br />

submitted an average of 30 grant<br />

proposals per year, with a high of 53<br />

HEALTH<br />

<strong>March</strong> 3, <strong>2022</strong><br />

proposals submitted in 2020-21.<br />

“UA wants all their big money<br />

coming from athletics,” she said. “It’s<br />

coming from business and coming from<br />

engineering, and they don’t want to<br />

acknowledge that the psych program is<br />

one of the biggest undergrad programs. I<br />

don’t think UA is really giving the muchneeded<br />

credit to the psych program.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> psychology program has about<br />

1,200 undergraduate students enrolled<br />

as psychology majors and 900 enrolled<br />

in the minor. <strong>The</strong> graduate program has<br />

about 100 students. <strong>The</strong>re are more than<br />

45 faculty members in the department.<br />

<strong>The</strong> 2021 report concluded that<br />

those who work in Gordon Palmer Hall<br />

deserve better conditions.<br />

“While all of these options will require<br />

a significant financial investment, the<br />

department is functioning at a high<br />

level (in terms of credit hours generated,<br />

graduates produced and research<br />

productivity) and is consistently<br />

described as one of the strongest<br />

departments at the university. Thus,<br />

the department deserves a facility that<br />

reflects this and will continue to raise<br />

its prominence into the future,” the<br />

report concluded.<br />

Bending said the issues surrounding<br />

Gordon Palmer Hall have made her<br />

question why she would give back to the<br />

University after graduating.<br />

“I think UA just needs to revise<br />

their vision, because I think they're<br />

getting away from being an institution<br />

that really focuses on creating a<br />

great research institution,” she said.<br />

“You can't have these great research<br />

aspirations if you're not providing the<br />

necessary resources.”<br />

Psychology department Chair<br />

Thompson Davis did not respond to a<br />

request for comment.<br />

Authors of the report Cory Armstrong<br />

and Marcia Hay-McCutcheon declined<br />

to comment. Caroline Boxmeyer did not<br />

respond to a request for comment.<br />

How does UA make COVID decisions?<br />



Since the onset of the COVID-19<br />

pandemic, the University has been<br />

navigating a changing landscape. As<br />

the University approaches the two-year<br />

anniversary of sending students home<br />

for half of a semester of virtual learning,<br />

information about how COVID-19 policy<br />

decisions are made is scarce.<br />

College of Community <strong>Health</strong> Sciences<br />

Dean Richard Friend confirmed on a<br />

phone call on Jan. 19 that UA President<br />

Stuart Bell has final say about COVID-19<br />

policy decisions at the University. Friend<br />

said the Situation Response Team is<br />

advisory to Bell’s office.<br />

Bell’s office did not initially acknowledge<br />

his role in the decision-making process<br />

surrounding COVID-19 policy on campus<br />

in his first statement on Feb. 19 released<br />

through Beverly Baker, administrative<br />

assistant to the president.<br />

“UA Situational Response Team<br />

evaluates conditions on campus and<br />

surrounding communities and consults<br />

with [the Alabama Department of Public<br />

<strong>Health</strong>] when making recommendations<br />

about campus guidelines, processes and<br />

protocols,” the statement read.<br />

Bell’s office said on Feb. 24 that, as with<br />

all campus policies, campus units propose<br />

policies to senior leadership for approval.<br />

“By nature of his position, President Bell<br />

is responsible for the overall leadership of<br />

this institution,” the statement read.<br />

On the University’s official coronavirus<br />

website, the Situational Response Team is<br />

described as “consisting of representatives<br />

and experts from [Bell’s] office, Academic<br />

Affairs, Finance and Operations,<br />

<strong>Health</strong> Sciences, IT, Research, Strategic<br />

Communications, and Student Life.”<br />

According to a list provided by Bell’s<br />

office, two of the 15 members of the team<br />

are medical professionals — Friend and<br />

Karen Burgess, the interim executive<br />

director and medical director of the<br />

Student <strong>Health</strong> Center.<br />

Bell’s office noted that the list of<br />

members provided to <strong>The</strong> <strong>Crimson</strong> <strong>White</strong><br />

consisted of current members and did not<br />

include previous members of the team<br />

or members added to address issues at a<br />

specific time.<br />

Other members of the team include<br />

Steven Hood, interim vice president for<br />

student life; Ryan Bradley, vice president<br />

of strategic communications; and Donald<br />

Keith, director of emergency management.<br />

In its initial statement on Feb. 19,<br />

Bell’s office said that “campus responses<br />

to COVID-19 have adapted to meet the<br />

policies, guidance and mandates issued by<br />

local, state and federal governments, the<br />

Alabama Department of Public <strong>Health</strong>,<br />

and the Centers for Disease Control<br />

and Prevention.”<br />

<strong>The</strong>re have been multiple documented<br />

instances of COVID-19 policies not<br />

following the recommendations issued<br />

by the CDC. In November 2020, the<br />

University lifted a mask mandate<br />

despite county transmission being above<br />

the CDC’s threshold to recommend<br />

indoor masking.<br />

At the time, the CDC’s guidelines<br />

said that individuals in communities<br />

where transmission levels were over the<br />

“substantial” threshold should wear masks<br />

indoors. According to the ADPH, high<br />

transmission was defined as at least 100<br />

cases per 100,000 people, or a 10% or<br />

greater positivity rate.<br />

As of Feb. 25, the CDC has changed<br />

its masking guidelines to reflect<br />

hospitalizations and bed availability<br />

instead of community transmission.<br />

Under the old guidelines Tuscaloosa<br />

county would have “high” transmission,<br />

but with the new guidelines the county<br />

falls into the “medium” category, which<br />

allows for unmasking indoors, regardless<br />

of vaccination status.<br />

In early February the University<br />

announced that it would begin phasing out<br />

COVID-19 services over the course of the<br />

semester, starting with the end of the mask<br />

mandate implemented in response to the<br />

omicron variant. When the announcement<br />

to lift the mandate was made, and when it<br />

was lifted on Feb. 21, CDC regulations<br />

still recommended masking indoors,<br />

regardless of vaccination status, in areas of<br />

high transmission.<br />

<strong>The</strong> announcement scaling back the<br />

University’s COVID-19 response —<br />

including the end of the mask mandate —<br />

came a week after the State <strong>Health</strong> Officer<br />

Scott Harris expressed reluctance to declare<br />

victory over the pandemic.<br />

“We still know that there’s a lot we don’t<br />

know, and we’ve seen previous surges<br />

before, so we’re just a little careful to declare<br />

victory at this point,” Harris said in an<br />

interview with WFSA 12 News.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Crimson</strong> <strong>White</strong> submitted two<br />

open records requests last semester<br />

seeking information about COVID-19<br />

policymaking decisions. In one response,<br />

the University provided a list of groups<br />

who made recommendations on policies,<br />

but did not disclose the decision<br />

making process.<br />

<strong>The</strong> University’s coronavirus website<br />

frames the Situation Response Team as the<br />

the decision makers for COVID-19 policy,<br />

but Friend, a member of the team, said Bell<br />

is the one with that power. <strong>The</strong> website<br />

does not mention that final decisionmaking<br />

power lies with Bell.<br />

Some SEC schools have shared<br />

detailed information regarding who<br />

makes their policy decisions. Auburn<br />

University spokesperson Mike Clardy said<br />

in a statement that “COVID-19 related<br />

decisions at Auburn ultimately lie with<br />

the president.”<br />

“Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020,<br />

the University has relied on the guidance<br />

and expertise of an advisory committee,<br />

which includes the medical director,<br />

among others, and follows guidance set<br />

forth by the CDC,” Clardy said.<br />

In contrast, the University of Florida’s<br />

policies are constrained by multiple state<br />

laws curbing pandemic response options<br />

available to schools. Under these laws,<br />

schools are prohibited from enacting<br />

mask or vaccination mandates for their<br />

employees or their students.<br />

Alabama has similar laws curbing<br />

vaccine mandates made by schools and<br />

employers. Act No. 2021-493 details<br />

rules regarding vaccine passports and<br />

prohibits universities in the state from<br />

requiring vaccinations as a condition for<br />

attendance for students, with exceptions<br />

for immunizations that were required<br />

before Jan. 1 2021.<br />

Act No. 2021-561 prohibits employers<br />

from firing employees due to not having<br />

a COVID-19 vaccine and requires<br />

employers to provide religious and medical<br />

exemptions for a mandate to anyone who<br />

fills out the proper paperwork.<br />

UF spokesperson Cynthia Roldán<br />

Hernández said “only the state of Florida<br />

can mandate vaccines” in an email.<br />

“UF has begun treating COVID as<br />

other contagious illnesses such as the flu,”<br />

Hernández said. “<strong>The</strong> university continues<br />

to monitor the campus environment and<br />

will change along with it when needed.”<br />

Richard Friend did not respond to<br />

multiple interview requests for this story.<br />

Friend’s confirmation on Bell’s decisionmaking<br />

power came from an interview<br />

before this reporting process began.<br />

UA President Stuart Bell spoke at a COVID-19 press conference in August 2020. CW File

HEALTH<br />

<strong>March</strong> 3, <strong>2022</strong><br />

5A<br />

It takes a support system to build a student-athlete<br />



Becoming an athlete requires<br />

training, a proper diet and conditioning,<br />

but a person can’t become an athlete<br />

alone. It takes a support system.<br />

Laura Thomas, the director of<br />

professional development in the<br />

University’s Division of Student Life,<br />

knows all about creating a support<br />

system around athletes.<br />

Before Thomas transitioned to<br />

the Division of Student Life, she<br />

was the assistant director of club<br />

sport programs.<br />

<strong>The</strong> director<br />

Thomas works with students in all<br />

club sports and intramural programs<br />

offered at <strong>The</strong> University of Alabama.<br />

She knew this was the job for her<br />

since she was an undergraduate student<br />

at Texas State University where she<br />

majored in recreational administration<br />

with a business minor.<br />

While a student at Texas State<br />

University, Thomas was an official in<br />

intramural games, which led to a job<br />

with the sports club program.<br />

“I fell in love with the work,”<br />

Thomas said.<br />

She paired her undergraduate degrees<br />

CW / Autumn Williams<br />

with a master’s degree from Ohio<br />

State University in higher education<br />

administration with an emphasis in<br />

college student personnel. Much of<br />

that program focused on supporting<br />

students via counseling, making sure<br />

she “meets students where they are.”<br />

Thomas is working on a Ph.D. in<br />

general higher education administration<br />

through <strong>The</strong> University of Alabama.<br />

<strong>The</strong> why<br />

Thomas’ main draw to club sports at<br />

the University is the relationship she has<br />

with the student-athletes.<br />

“I love sports and I love being around<br />

all that stuff, but there’s also just so<br />

much more to working with student<br />

organizations,” Thomas said.<br />

She loves the culture that surrounds<br />

sports and the energy that students<br />

bring to club sports teams.<br />

“It’s high competition, and everyone<br />

is taking it seriously, and it means a lot<br />

to a lot of people,” Thomas said.<br />

Thomas spent most of spring 2020<br />

checking in with individual athletes<br />

when the COVID-19 pandemic first<br />

hit Tuscaloosa to make sure they were<br />

okay — both physically and mentally<br />

— while also communicating how each<br />

team’s season would be different in the<br />

middle of a pandemic.<br />

<strong>The</strong> work<br />

Thomas’ hours are flexible, not to<br />

accommodate her schedule,<br />

but to accommodate<br />

the schedules of<br />

each sport she<br />

oversees.<br />

“Students don’t operate on an 8-to-<br />

5, and so I need my schedule to reflect<br />

that,” she said.<br />

Thomas’ typical hours span from 10<br />

a.m. to 8 p.m., but sometimes she works<br />

from noon to 10 p.m if there's practice<br />

or a game. She has extra flexibility built<br />

into her schedule to accommodate<br />

weekend events.<br />

At times, Thomas will be on campus<br />

all day on a Saturday or Sunday if a team<br />

is hosting a home game or tournament.<br />

Her role is largely administrative with<br />

the purpose of supporting students.<br />

<strong>The</strong> club sports office works closely<br />

with the executive officers from each<br />

team. Officers must submit travel<br />

schedules and request forms that<br />

Thomas and her staff monitor weekly.<br />

She reviews and approves event<br />

requests and works with the University<br />

Recreation Center to reserve fields.<br />

Thomas said most of the work she<br />

does is behind the scenes, and “students<br />

may or may not know that somebody<br />

has to be doing that.”<br />

Her staff manages about 60 students<br />

who work under club sports as officials<br />

or assistants. <strong>The</strong>se students supervise<br />

all events, from practices to games.<br />

She manages the risks and liabilities<br />

associated with many of the club sports<br />

teams and ensures that an athletic<br />

trainer is on-site for student-athletes<br />

to use.<br />

She described all these tasks as “little<br />

things” she has to monitor before a fan<br />

can see a weekend rugby game.<br />

<strong>The</strong> relationship<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are 35 sports clubs on campus.<br />

Thomas, along with the assistant director,<br />

the sports program coordinator and the<br />

sports program graduate assistant, split<br />

the 35 clubs between the three of them<br />

to serve as a liaison for each club.<br />

Seth Ballew, a former UA club<br />

baseball athlete who is now in his second<br />

year of medical school at the University<br />

of Alabama at Birmingham, said the<br />

system streamlines communication.<br />

Ballew was the treasurer of the club<br />

baseball team during his sophomore<br />

and junior years, and he was elected<br />

president his senior year. He said his<br />

liaison at the time was always there<br />

for them.<br />

“If we needed anything, we could call<br />

or email or text her, and I did it often,”<br />

Ballew said.<br />

He relied on his liaisons to deal with<br />

the University and his sport-specific<br />

governing body as his team navigated<br />

logistics and competitions. His liaison<br />

provided logistical guidance as he<br />

worked to manage his teammates.<br />

Thomas said trust is important to<br />

her as she forms working relationships<br />

between sports club officers and liaisons.<br />

“I would say the hardest part of my<br />

job is when I realize they didn’t hold up<br />

their end of the bargain,” she said.<br />

Thomas said that if she learns a team<br />

printed a T-shirt without getting it<br />

approved through club sports or if there<br />

is a disciplinary issue on a trip, “it hurts<br />

a little bit.”<br />

She and her team “work our butts<br />

off for these teams and these athletes.”<br />

Many teams and athletes do hold up<br />

their end of the bargain, but when they<br />

don’t, it can feel like they don’t care.<br />

Thomas and Ballew both said it<br />

is up to the officers and individual<br />

athletes to form that trust and<br />

working relationship.<br />

Jack Mulkerne, a junior on the<br />

club golf team, said his team has had<br />

some issues along these lines. He<br />

said this stems from failure on the<br />

officers’ part to get club sports the<br />

necessary paperwork.<br />

“It’s a bunch of kids who just want to<br />

play golf, so they don’t really understand<br />

that we have to have waivers and all this<br />

other stuff in case someone gets hurt or<br />

something happens,” he said.<br />

Mulkerne recognized that the<br />

working relationship between club<br />

officers and liaisons was imperative to a<br />

team’s success.<br />

<strong>The</strong> goal<br />

For some, club sports provide a way to<br />

continue an athletic career. For others,<br />

it is the highest level of competition<br />

before going professional. Club sports<br />

are meant to provide student-athletes a<br />

home outside of varsity sports.<br />

This is important to Thomas, but she<br />

said it’s not her main goal. Thomas’ ideal<br />

world is for all student-athletes to leave<br />

with similar experiences to Ballew’s<br />

and Mulkerne’s — to form lifelong<br />

friendships, build leadership skills along<br />

the way and create a support system<br />

within <strong>The</strong> University of Alabama.

6A<br />

HEALTH<br />

<strong>March</strong> 3, <strong>2022</strong>

HEALTH<br />

<strong>March</strong> 3, <strong>2022</strong><br />

How to <strong>Health</strong>:<br />

A discussion of insurance, primary care and more<br />



1B<br />

Balancing health and wellness can<br />

be difficult for college students who<br />

are thrust into the adult world for the<br />

first time. Between classes, clubs, jobs<br />

and social lives, the mundane daily<br />

activities required to maintain a basic<br />

level of physical wellness often slip<br />

through the cracks.<br />

Dr. Thomas Weida, the chief<br />

medical officer at the UA Student<br />

<strong>Health</strong> Center, said that when it comes<br />

to personal health, being proactive is<br />

the name of the game.<br />

Weida said having a health<br />

insurance plan is central to staying<br />

on top of every aspect of wellness.<br />

It provides a security blanket in case<br />

of emergency and increases your<br />

flexibility to see primary doctors and<br />

specialists year-round.<br />

When you’re less<br />

stressed, you are less<br />

likely to get sick, and<br />

it’s just easier to put<br />

working out in your<br />

everyday life in my<br />

opinion.<br />


But insurance can be expensive.<br />

Despite the passage of the Affordable<br />

Care Act, cost continues to be the<br />

leading factor for individuals who<br />

remain uninsured.<br />

According to the U.S. Census<br />

Bureau, private, employer-based<br />

coverage is still the most prevalent<br />

form of insurance, making up<br />

over half of all plans and leaving<br />

those without a job with insurance<br />

benefits in the dark. Navigating the<br />

complex world of insurance can be a<br />

daunting task.<br />

A 2017 study done by<br />

Agile<strong>Health</strong>Insurance found that 72%<br />

percent of college students reported<br />

having difficulty finding insurance.<br />

High monthly premiums combined<br />

with the lack of centralized<br />

resources for comparison<br />

between plans make the<br />

process<br />

daunting<br />

f o r<br />

students.<br />

<strong>The</strong> three basic aspects of any<br />

insurance plan are premiums,<br />

deductibles and copays.<br />

Premiums are monthly<br />

installments paid directly to the<br />

insurance company. A deductible<br />

is the amount an individual is<br />

required to pay out of pocket<br />

to care providers before<br />

insurance coverage<br />

kicks in, and a copay is a fixed amount<br />

paid for a health care service after the<br />

deductible has been reached.<br />

<strong>The</strong> difference in these three costs<br />

is mainly what sets insurance plans<br />

apart from one another. Deciding<br />

which to pay for is a matter of<br />

personal calculus.<br />

“It’s a balancing act, like stocks:<br />

How much risk are you willing to<br />

accept?” Weida said. “Most plans<br />

by reputable insurance companies<br />

are going to be decent and probably<br />

proceed about the same. If you find<br />

one that’s really, really cheap, you get<br />

what you pay for.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> Affordable Care Act now<br />

allows individuals to remain on their<br />

parents’ insurance up to the age of<br />

26. <strong>The</strong> open insurance market it<br />

established at <strong>Health</strong>Care.gov is a free<br />

resource with detailed information<br />

about different insurance plans and<br />

allows price comparison between<br />

qualified plans.<br />

At a minimum, Weida said students<br />

should have a plan that covers<br />

significant illness if they end up in<br />

the hospital.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Student <strong>Health</strong> Center offers<br />

a University-sponsored insurance<br />

plan through United<strong>Health</strong>care,<br />

available to all students currently<br />

enrolled in five or more credit hours.<br />

Beyond that, open-market plans are<br />

available through <strong>Health</strong>Care.gov<br />

with enrollment from Nov. 1 to Jan.<br />

15 of every year.<br />

Despite the barrier that high<br />

deductibles and premiums can place,<br />

the consequences of being uninsured<br />

can prove catastrophic. Medical<br />

debt is the leading cause of personal<br />

bankruptcy, and can build up quickly<br />

if you’re paying for all care out of<br />

pocket. It also lowers the cost for<br />

regular doctor visits, which helps<br />

prevent larger health problems from<br />

building up in the future.<br />

“Most health insurances will cover<br />

preventive care without a copay, so<br />

that makes it easier to access the right<br />

things to do,” Weida said.<br />

As much as personal health and<br />

insurance should be a<br />

part of every student’s<br />

health, there are<br />

many other aspects of<br />

health that students<br />

should care for on a daily basis.<br />

“Working out is good for you<br />

because it not only helps physical<br />

health, but it also manages your stress<br />

levels and increases endorphins in<br />

your body which makes you an overall<br />

happier person,” said Bella Martina,<br />

a freshman news media major and<br />

employee at HOTWORX.<br />

Working out is also mentally<br />

beneficial since it can increase<br />

endorphins, which can make people<br />

happier and relieve stress.<br />

“When you’re less stressed, you<br />

are less likely to get sick, and it’s<br />

just easier to put working out in<br />

your everyday life in my opinion,”<br />

Martina said.<br />

Working out everyday isn’t always<br />

an accessible option for everyone,<br />

whether that be because of schedule,<br />

disability or location. Even though<br />

Martina works at a workout studio,<br />

she’s also struggled with working out<br />

on a day-to-day basis. In high school<br />

she was always “on it,” but in college, it<br />

can be hard to keep up with a routine.<br />

“Now I have completely changed,<br />

and I’ve noticed it in not only my<br />

personality, but physically as well,”<br />

Martina said.<br />

Working out helped Martina create<br />

a better sleeping pattern that’s turned<br />

her into a morning person.<br />

<strong>The</strong> transition from high school<br />

to college was difficult, but Martina<br />

adapted to a new schedule and made<br />

time for her workouts that have<br />

benefited her. When Martina started<br />

making working out a part of her<br />

routine, it helped make working out a<br />

“mindless act.”<br />

Properly caring for one’s health<br />

requires college students to become<br />

aware that they’re not invincible and<br />

that they won’t be young forever.<br />

“<strong>Health</strong> is definitely something I<br />

think all students take for granted,”<br />

said Alaina McDuffie, a sophomore<br />

majoring in public relations. “Really,<br />

most of us don’t think about it<br />

until it impacts other parts of our<br />

life, like our social lives or other<br />

school obligations.”<br />

Approaching physical activity and<br />

your diet in a more mindful way can<br />

help you take steps to make your<br />

health a priority.<br />

In terms of primary care, keeping<br />

prevention in mind is key. Weida said<br />

small, daily changes to the routines<br />

and habits of young adults can make<br />

all the difference.<br />

“Activity or exercise, getting<br />

proper sleep, because pulling these<br />

all-nighters, that’s not good for you,”<br />

Weida said. “In other words, if on<br />

the weekend you stay up until 4 in<br />

the morning and Monday you get up<br />

for an 8 o’clock class,<br />

that’s not going to<br />

work out so well.”<br />

Weida said the<br />

most dangerous<br />

thing a college<br />

student can do is<br />

hold the belief<br />

that nothing<br />

bad could<br />

happen to<br />

them.<br />

“At your age, you’re invincible, or at<br />

least, you think you are,” Weida said.<br />

“It’s not necessarily expressed, but a<br />

lot of people seem to think ‘Well, I’m<br />

fine now, why should I change?’ But<br />

you don’t realize how much paying<br />

attention now sets you up for later<br />

in life.”<br />

<strong>Health</strong> is definitely<br />

something I think<br />

all students take for<br />

granted. Really, most<br />

of us don’t think about<br />

it until it impacts other<br />

parts of our life, like<br />

our social lives or other<br />

school obligations.<br />

ALAINA<br />


Some students struggle with this<br />

more than others. Cameron Heiser,<br />

a sophomore majoring in creative<br />

media, said he stands in the middle<br />

ground between healthy choices and<br />

overindulgence.<br />

“I count myself lucky that I<br />

haven’t had any serious medical<br />

issues, but I think it’s because I<br />

don’t completely think ‘Oh, nothing<br />

can happen to me,’” Heiser said.<br />

“Every time the consequences of my<br />

actions catch up to me, it’s a pretty<br />

humbling experience.”<br />

Maintaining health doesn’t stop at<br />

keeping up with appointments and<br />

listening to your body.<br />

Weida said finding one primary care<br />

physician greatly impacts a patient’s<br />

overall ability to care for their health.<br />

<strong>The</strong> trust built in a strong relationship<br />

with one’s primary care doctor, as well<br />

as the wealth of knowledge accrued,<br />

results in more thorough and accurate<br />

diagnoses and care.<br />

For many students, taking time to<br />

find one physician is a struggle that<br />

prevents them from seeking the care<br />

they need.<br />

“I’ve had an extreme fear of doctors<br />

for a while, and anything medical<br />

freaks me out,” said Gabrielle Gunter,<br />

a sophomore majoring in English.<br />

“I’ve definitely gone to the doctor less<br />

since being here ... because at home,<br />

I know there’s a doctor there who I<br />

trust, but I don’t have that at school.”<br />

Taking care of your body today,<br />

especially while you’re still in college,<br />

helps ensure that minor issues don’t<br />

compound into life-threatening<br />

conditions. College doesn’t last<br />

forever, so it’s best to begin creating<br />

healthy habits while there are plenty<br />

of University-provided resources to<br />

fall back on.<br />

<strong>The</strong> University’s Student <strong>Health</strong><br />

Center is a wellspring of services,<br />

offering everything from wellness<br />

visits to psychiatric care, catered<br />

toward UA students. While it can<br />

be daunting, take the next step in<br />

personal care and wellness. Your body<br />

will thank you.<br />

Graphics CW / Autumn Williams<br />

Why UA system removed vaccination data<br />



<strong>The</strong> percentage of students, faculty<br />

and staff who have received their<br />

COVID-19 vaccinations was removed<br />

from the University of Alabama System<br />

COVID-19 dashboard on Jan. 18.<br />

<strong>The</strong> dashboard is a digital campus<br />

performance indicator aimed to<br />

increase University awareness of the<br />

spread of COVID-19.<br />

<strong>The</strong> UA System reported that 62%<br />

of students had received at least the<br />

first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of<br />

Jan. 10.<br />

UA System spokesperson Lynn Cole<br />

said vaccine data was removed because<br />

it was self-reported.<br />

“Due to the largely voluntary nature<br />

of this self-reported data, we do not<br />

have updated System wide data to<br />

report at this time,” Cole said.<br />

Vaccination data was available during<br />

the fall 2021 semester, when vaccination<br />

reporting was voluntary. <strong>The</strong> University<br />

initially offered students $20 in Bama<br />

Cash to self-report their vaccination<br />

status in July 2021, eventually doubling<br />

the amount offered and introducing a<br />

raffle of prizes in the following month.<br />

<strong>The</strong> University temporarily removed<br />

the online vaccine reporting tool that<br />

students, faculty and staff used to selfreport<br />

their COVID-19 vaccinations<br />

in December 2021. <strong>The</strong>y removed<br />

the tool in response to the vaccine<br />

mandate instituted by President Joe<br />

Biden on Sept. 9, 2021, which would<br />

have required all federal employees to<br />

be vaccinated.<br />

<strong>The</strong> University fell into that<br />

category due to the federal funding it<br />

receives, so the reporting tool was no<br />

longer necessary.<br />

“It is necessary to require COVID-19<br />

vaccination for all Federal employees,<br />

subject to such exceptions as required<br />

by law,” Biden said.<br />

<strong>The</strong> University restored the<br />

reporting tool after the decision<br />

and did not mandate<br />

vaccines at any time, b u t<br />

campus vaccination rates are still absent<br />

from the dashboard.<br />

<strong>The</strong> mandate was overturned in the<br />

United States District Court for the<br />

Southern District of Georgia. As a result<br />

of the injunction, the University of<br />

Georgia student vaccination percentage<br />

was also removed from its dashboard.<br />

<strong>The</strong> University of Alabama System<br />

removed vaccine percentages from its<br />

dashboard prior to the announcement<br />

that the mask mandate would end<br />

starting Feb. 21 and that all existing<br />

protocols for COVID-19 would be<br />

phased out.<br />

“Our campus team has thoroughly<br />

reviewed the best available information<br />

and considered our<br />

own experience in<br />

addressing COVID over<br />

the past two years,” Dr. Richard<br />

Friend, the dean of the College of<br />

Community <strong>Health</strong> Sciences, said.<br />

UGA also suspended certain<br />

requirements, including notifying<br />

employees of the federal vaccine<br />

requirement and enforcing<br />

mask-wearing and physical<br />

distancing requirements.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Centers for Disease Control<br />

and Prevention has determined that<br />

the best way to slow the spread of<br />

COVID-19 and to prevent infection by<br />

the omicron variant or other variants is<br />

to be vaccinated.<br />

As of Feb. 22, 50.1% of Alabama<br />

residents had received at least one dose<br />

of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 52.3%<br />

of Tuscaloosa County residents had<br />

received at least one dose of a vaccine<br />

as of Feb. 23.

2B<br />

HEALTH<br />

<strong>March</strong> 3, <strong>2022</strong><br />

How college students can find balanced nutrition<br />



College students are often busy with<br />

classes, friends and extracurriculars, often<br />

placing nutrition on the back burner.<br />

Students either believe it to be impossible<br />

to eat a healthy, balanced diet while in<br />

college, or they simply do not know how.<br />

According to the fall 2021 American<br />

College <strong>Health</strong> Association report, 39%<br />

of college students said they believed their<br />

overall health to be very good, but 59%<br />

reported that they ate on average less than 1<br />

cup of vegetables each day — far lower than<br />

the 2.5-3 cups of vegetables recommended<br />

for college-age people based on the Dietary<br />

Guidelines for Americans.<br />

Sheena Gregg, a licensed dietitian in<br />

the Department of <strong>Health</strong> Promotion and<br />

Wellness, said she has made it her mission<br />

to inform UA students of ways they can<br />

learn about nutrition.<br />

“We cover key health areas that are very<br />

strategic for college students,” Gregg said.<br />

“I do a lot of programming on campus<br />

related to educating students about healthy<br />

eating and having a healthy relationship<br />

with food.”<br />

For many students, consistently eating<br />

healthy, or consistently eating at all, tends<br />

to be a struggle when they are balancing so<br />

many other things.<br />

“In the college years, when people<br />

are making significant food choices for<br />

themselves rather than relying on their<br />

parents or guardians, erratic, inconsistent<br />

eating patterns is kind of a hallmark of<br />

college students and that can be skipping<br />

meals,” said Kimberly Stran, a registered<br />

dietitian and an assistant professor in<br />

the department of human nutrition and<br />

hospitality management.<br />

In her doctoral dissertation, Stran<br />

researched how caloric numbers on<br />

restaurant menus affect college students.<br />

Her research showed that although<br />

students would read the information, they<br />

wouldn’t necessarily choose foods with<br />

lower calories.<br />

She said some of these choices may have<br />

stemmed from students not understanding<br />

how many calories were needed in a daily<br />

diet or specific meals, even if the menu<br />

does include the average number of<br />

calories needed in a human’s diet.<br />

Consuming a certain number of<br />

calories, though, is not the only important<br />

element of a person’s diet.<br />

Stran said that although intaking<br />

enough calories is important, consuming<br />

a variety of foods — like fruits, vegetables<br />

and lean meats — is equally necessary.<br />

However, many nutrients found in<br />

these foods are not present in restaurant<br />

meals alone.<br />

Morgan Abercrombie, a first-year<br />

human nutrition graduate student, said<br />

college students can learn how to eat fast<br />

food in a healthy way.<br />

“It’s totally fine to include fast food in a<br />

well-balanced diet,” Abercrombie said. “It’s<br />

just about also having fruits and vegetables.<br />

Rather than cutting out things, you are<br />

adding fruit and vegetables to what you<br />

are already eating.”<br />

Abercrombie said students should not<br />

feel ashamed to have snack meals, each<br />

of which should include a protein and a<br />

carb, throughout the day to intake those<br />

necessary nutrients.<br />

“Food is a social experience, so you<br />

do not have to feel guilty for eating<br />

with friends or viewing it as a pleasure,”<br />

Abercrombie said.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se fruits, vegetables and snack<br />

meals are easy to make in dorm rooms or<br />

apartments because they usually require<br />

little cooking, if any at all.<br />

Stran said many students hear<br />

nutritional information from external<br />

sources, such as roommates, social media<br />

or friends, but she recommends students<br />

consult a registered dietitian with any<br />

nutritional questions they may have.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Department of <strong>Health</strong> Promotion<br />

and Wellness has started initiatives to assist<br />

with the transition into grocery shopping<br />

and cooking on your own.<br />

UA <strong>Health</strong> Promotion and Wellness<br />

also hosts an Ask the Dietitian program,<br />

which allows students to ask a registered<br />

dietitian personal questions about their<br />

diet, take grocery store tours and watch<br />

cooking demonstrations. <strong>The</strong> division also<br />

provides cooking tips on its social media<br />

account and in a digital cookbook called<br />

“Cooking Through College.”<br />

Gregg and colleagues have, also, created<br />

guidebooks that show students around the<br />

grocery store, going section by section to<br />

incorporate all food groups and sharing<br />

tips about everything from picking<br />

produce to shopping on a budget.<br />

Many students also struggle with diet<br />

culture. Fad diets often cut out entire food<br />

groups or limit the hours during which<br />

you are allowed to eat.<br />

“This time of the year you have students<br />

engaging in questionable diet practices<br />

to prepare for spring break,” Gregg said.<br />

“I like to work with students about how<br />

to approach weight loss and weight<br />

management in an appropriate way.”<br />

Fad diets can prevent students from<br />

performing their best since they are<br />

operating with less vitamins and nutrients<br />

than they would have while eating from<br />

every food group. <strong>The</strong>se actions can<br />

have negative effects both academically<br />

and socially.<br />

Gregg often promotes intuitive eating<br />

among students.<br />

Intuitive eating encourages students to<br />

put their health first instead of focusing on<br />

weight loss.<br />

Holly Grof, a registered dietitian and<br />

the UA dining services coordinator, wants<br />

to make sure all students get to enjoy the<br />

social experience of eating by specifically<br />

working with students who have food<br />

allergies or other dietary restrictions.<br />

“As a dietitian, I want to make sure that<br />

everyone is nourished, happy and healthy,<br />

and that they have those experiences in the<br />

dining hall because not only is it getting<br />

your nutrition, it’s also a social experience,”<br />

Grof said.<br />

If a student has a medically documented<br />

food allergy or a dietary restriction,<br />

the student can submit documentation<br />

through a special diet accommodation<br />

form, which will be reviewed on an<br />

individual student basis.<br />

Students who receive accommodations<br />

CW / Jo Dyess<br />

get access through their ACT Card to a<br />

food allergy room at Lakeside dining. <strong>The</strong><br />

room has two distinct sides: one is glutenfree,<br />

and the other is allergy-friendly.<br />

Students must wash their hands upon<br />

entry and wear gloves while preparing<br />

their meal inside the room.<br />

Students with accommodations also<br />

receive a text-ahead ordering option for<br />

the dining hall. This lowers the chance of<br />

cross contamination.<br />

Grof said any students with<br />

accommodations can contact her if they<br />

desire different meal options.<br />

“For a student with food allergies,<br />

food can literally kill them, so we take<br />

on a responsibility to take care of those<br />

students,” Grof said. “We want to make<br />

sure they can take full advantage of their<br />

meal plan and full advantage of their<br />

campus experience.”<br />

UA Student Care and Well-Being<br />

also has options for students needing<br />

food assistance through their “Got<br />

Meals” meal donation program and a<br />

food pantry, which is currently taking<br />

monetary donations.<br />

Students who would like to request<br />

meal swipes through either the “Got<br />

Meals” program or the food pantry can<br />

submit an online form.<br />

“Nutrition is, I feel, the backbone of<br />

good health,” Stran said. “<strong>The</strong>re are so<br />

many chronic diseases and things like heart<br />

disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure<br />

that are influenced by what we eat, and<br />

if we can improve the general nutrition<br />

status of people around us, that can help<br />

reduce that risk of chronic disease.”<br />

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No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is<br />

greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.<br />

Representing Students in Tuscaloosa Municipal Court,<br />

05-454-7500<br />

Tuscaloosa District Court, Northport Municipal Court, and<br />

Criminal Case Expungements<br />

Representing Students in Tuscaloosa Municipal Court,<br />

205-454-7500<br />

Tuscaloosa Representing District Court, Northport Municipal Court, and<br />

705 27th Avenue Criminal<br />

Students<br />

Tuscaloosa Case<br />

in Tuscaloosa Expungements<br />

Municipal Court,<br />

Tuscaloosa District Court, Northport Municipal Court, and<br />

Alabama 35401<br />

Criminal Case Expungements<br />

205-454-7500<br />

No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is<br />

greater<br />

205-454-7500<br />

than<br />

705<br />

the<br />

27th<br />

quality<br />

Avenue<br />

of legal<br />

Tuscaloosa<br />

services<br />

Alabama<br />

performed<br />

35401<br />

by other lawyers.<br />

No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is<br />

greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.<br />

705 27th Avenue Tuscaloosa Alabama 35401<br />

705 27th Avenue Tuscaloosa Alabama 35401<br />

No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is<br />

greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.<br />

No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is<br />

greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

HEALTH<br />

<strong>March</strong> 3, <strong>2022</strong><br />

3B<br />

Honesty in therapy is the key to better mental health<br />



Access to convenient and effective<br />

mental health services has always<br />

been important for college students,<br />

especially during the COVID-19<br />

pandemic. However, mental health is<br />

surrounded by certain stigmas that<br />

prevent many from seeking help.<br />

Even when they do, honesty between<br />

therapists and their clients can<br />

be missing.<br />

According to a 2021 Mayo Clinic<br />

study, up to 44% of college students<br />

reported having symptoms of<br />

depression and anxiety, but only 15%<br />

engaged in college-offered counseling<br />

in the past year.<br />

Studies show that depression and<br />

anxiety rates are skyrocketing among<br />

younger age groups and across tax<br />

brackets due to a “decrease in social<br />

interaction” and “America’s culture<br />

of hyperachievement.”<br />

Honesty, in any<br />

relationship, is built on<br />

a foundation of trust,<br />

and it’s crucial to find a<br />

therapeutic relationship<br />

that you feel is safe,<br />

secure, confidential<br />

and trusting.<br />

GREG<br />


“When we meet people, especially<br />

new people, it’s our human nature to<br />

want to protect our sense of self,” said<br />

Charice Calloway, a UA alumna and<br />

licensed marriage and family therapist<br />

practicing at Thrive <strong>The</strong>rapy. “We tend<br />

to want to present the best version of<br />

ourselves, and in therapy that’s not what<br />

always happens. <strong>The</strong> goal is to want to<br />

be vulnerable and to tell your therapist<br />

everything that’s going on so that they<br />

can truly help you.”<br />

A study conducted by Barry Farber,<br />

a professor of clinical psychology at<br />

Columbia University who has studied<br />

dishonesty in therapy for decades,<br />

found that out of 547 psychotherapy<br />

clients, 93% said they lied “consciously”<br />

at least once to their therapist.<br />

“It’s not common, it’s ubiquitous,”<br />

Farber said in the study. “Lying is<br />

inevitable in psychotherapy.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> internal struggle between trying<br />

to be the idealized version of oneself<br />

and embracing vulnerability is one that<br />

therapists understand.<br />

“It can be really hard to be completely<br />

open and transparent about internal<br />

concerns, things that roll around in<br />

our brains but rarely get articulated to<br />

anybody else. Sometimes that can be<br />

just because it’s scary,” said Greg Vander<br />

Wal, the UA Counseling Center’s<br />

executive director. “Sometimes we don’t<br />

even really know what being honest is.”<br />

Vander Wal said since people often<br />

struggle to be honest with themselves, it<br />

can be even more difficult to be honest<br />

with friends, family and therapists.<br />

“Honesty, in any relationship, is built<br />

on a foundation of trust, and it’s crucial<br />

to find a therapeutic relationship that<br />

you feel is safe, secure, confidential and<br />

trusting,” Vander Wal said.<br />

Layered on top of this struggle<br />

are harmful stigmas that can place<br />

unwarranted social pressure and<br />

negative stereotypes on people seeking<br />

help, such as being emotionally<br />

and mentally unstable, inadequate<br />

or dangerous.<br />

A 2017 study found that a greater<br />

awareness and internalization of mental<br />

health stigmas resulted in poorer<br />

recovery from mental illnesses.<br />

Architha Bommena, a sophomore<br />

majoring in psychology and the copresident<br />

of Active Minds, a mental<br />

health club on campus, said it is<br />

important for people to know how to<br />

discuss mental health issues directly.<br />

In particular, she referred to the<br />

Question, Persuade, Refer method<br />

for preventing suicide, which the UA<br />

Counseling Center shared with Active<br />

Minds at a recent event.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Question, Persuade, Refer<br />

method asks friends and family to<br />

question a person about suicide,<br />

persuade the person to get help, and<br />

then refer them to help. By being open<br />

about mental illness, the QPR method<br />

aims to deconstruct stigmas that silence<br />

those who suffer and to foster important<br />

and life-saving dialogue.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> thing that I think shocks a lot<br />

of people is that they think that if they<br />

ask someone if they’re thinking about<br />

killing themselves, that will spark<br />

the idea or make them want to do it,”<br />

Bommena said. “It doesn’t have to be in<br />

a flowery, subtle way. Asking explicitly<br />

is going to be so much more helpful<br />

for them.”<br />

Although stigma can affect people of<br />

all races, it has a particularly powerful<br />

impact on minority communities.<br />

Asia Dewalt, a senior majoring in<br />

exercise science, is the president of My<br />

Mind Matters, a campus organization<br />

focused on the mental health of<br />

minority students, and said that people<br />

of color, specifically Black people, face<br />

unique cultural struggles when it comes<br />

to receiving support for mental health.<br />

“I’m not going to say that their<br />

parents and their communities do not<br />

believe in mental health, but they’re not<br />

open to the fact that it’s something that<br />

needs to be talked about and people<br />

need help with,” Dewalt said.<br />

In a 2018 Mental <strong>Health</strong> America<br />

study, over 50% of Black participants<br />

from 18 to 49 years old weren’t<br />

receiving treatment for their<br />

serious mental illnesses, due to a<br />

combination of medical racism,<br />

social ideas surrounding treatment,<br />

and finances.<br />

According to the Kaiser Family<br />

Foundation, nearly 55% of uninsured<br />

Americans under the age of 65 are<br />

people of color. Being uninsured makes<br />

access to medicine financially difficult<br />

or impossible.<br />

Aside from the social barriers to<br />

medication, minority communities face<br />

economic barriers as well.<br />

Vander Wal said part of decreasing<br />

the stigma around mental health and<br />

encouraging honesty in counseling is<br />

understanding that not only people<br />

with diagnosed mental illnesses can<br />

benefit from therapy.<br />

We tend to want<br />

to present the best<br />

version of ourselves,<br />

and in therapy that’s<br />

not what always<br />

happens.<br />



For Bommena, being truthful with<br />

her therapist started with being truthful<br />

to herself.<br />

“You only have one hour to try to<br />

explain [in therapy],” Bommena said.<br />

“So I journal, and for me it’s really<br />

important to write out everything, even<br />

if it’s really ugly or it sounds bad or I<br />

hate that I’m feeling all these negative<br />

emotions. Once you admit it to someone,<br />

CW / Anna Butts<br />

even just<br />

yourself, it can be easier<br />

to talk to someone.”<br />

Bommena and Dewalt agreed that<br />

self-care can be an alternative for or an<br />

augmentation to help from a therapist.<br />

Dewalt said self-care doesn’t have to be<br />

ritualistic, either.<br />

“You can definitely prioritize yourself<br />

in so many situations, and that doesn’t<br />

mean that you care for other people<br />

less. Cutting yourself slack is okay,”<br />

Bommena said. “I think that honestly<br />

helps you remind yourself that you’re<br />

in control.”<br />

Calloway said instead of treating<br />

mental health services like a last resort,<br />

it can be beneficial to view mental<br />

health and therapy treatments as a<br />

preventative to health problems, both<br />

mentally and physically.<br />

“We’re shifting our view of things to<br />

recognize that mental health is part of<br />

everybody’s day-to-day functioning,<br />

and we could all sometimes use support<br />

for helping us function as well as<br />

possible,” Vander Wal said.<br />

<strong>The</strong> University offers several mental<br />

health resources to students for free or<br />

a discounted cost. <strong>The</strong> UA Counseling<br />

Center and its ThrivingCampus<br />

software are available for students<br />

seeking traditional counseling or<br />

therapy sessions, both on or off campus.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Women and Gender Research<br />

Center is available to support victims of<br />

interpersonal violence and abuse, and<br />

the Safe Zone Resource Center provides<br />

resources and support to LGBTQ+<br />

community members.<br />

Additionally, the National Suicide<br />

Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)<br />

and the Substance Abuse and Mental<br />

<strong>Health</strong> Services Administration<br />

National Helpline (1-800-662-4357) are<br />

available 24/7 for no cost.<br />

OPINION: Student-athletes must find balance<br />



Student-athletes today are faced<br />

with a difficult task.<br />

That task? Being a student-athlete.<br />

CW / Andrew Stovall<br />

A “student-athlete” is a person<br />

taking part in an organized<br />

professional sport put on by an<br />

educational institution. In essence, a<br />

person who has to train, compete and<br />

perform well in competitive sports,<br />

as well as study, learn and perform<br />

well in the classroom.<br />

This is no easy feat, and figuring<br />

out the delicate balance between<br />

these two priorities can be daunting.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> biggest challenge is trying to<br />

find time to study,” Alabama rower<br />

Ter’ria Howard said. “Finding time to<br />

get the correct amount of rest while<br />

still showing up and giving 100%<br />

in practice.”<br />

Performance is constantly<br />

on student-athletes’ minds.<br />

Performance in the classroom and<br />

in their respective sporting events<br />

is important and can lead to mental<br />

challenges when things start to go<br />

awry on either side.<br />

“You’re in college, but you’re<br />

not like other students,” Alabama<br />

women’s basketball guard JaMya<br />

Mingo-Young said. “You have to be<br />

places all day every day, and you<br />

don’t really have the freedom that<br />

other college students have. <strong>The</strong>n if<br />

you’re not performing well, you can<br />

get lost in the middle of all of it.”<br />

<strong>The</strong>se pressures can begin to wear<br />

on their mental health.<br />

Nearly 30% of male studentathletes<br />

and nearly 50% of female<br />

student-athletes reported feeling<br />

overwhelmed, according to a wellbeing<br />

survey conducted by the<br />

NCAA in the fall of 2020. Roughly<br />

12% of males and 30% of females felt<br />

overwhelming anxiety, and nearly<br />

10% of males and 15% of females had<br />

feelings of hopelessness, according to<br />

the same study.<br />

Many student-athletes develop<br />

their own methods to deal with the<br />

stresses that arise.<br />

“I try to maintain a basic schedule<br />

because every day can be pretty<br />

much the same,” Mingo-Young said.<br />

“You schedule around your things<br />

and plan your days ahead; that way<br />

you’re prepared every day.”<br />

While the balance will always be<br />

difficult to take on alone, studentathletes<br />

have teammates embarking<br />

on the same journey alongside them,<br />

experiencing the same things, and<br />

can provide counsel to those who<br />

are struggling.<br />

“A piece of advice I would give is: If<br />

you feel like everything is exhausting<br />

or overwhelming, the best thing to<br />

do is reach out,” Howard said. “A<br />

teammate who’s been there, who<br />

knows the ropes, talk to them and ask<br />

them for advice. Watching somebody<br />

lead by example is way better than<br />

trying to figure it out on your own.”<br />

Good mental health is a challenge<br />

to maintain, especially for those<br />

juggling as many things as studentathletes<br />

do. While having teammates<br />

and coaches by their side doesn't<br />

make everything easier, it helps ease<br />

the load.

4B<br />

HEALTH<br />

<strong>March</strong> 3, <strong>2022</strong><br />

Stigma causes issues for women’s health<br />



Many young girls are taught to keep<br />

their periods a secret, hide their tampons<br />

when they go to the bathroom, or use<br />

code words to discuss issues regarding<br />

their menstruation to avoid scrutiny<br />

or disapproval. This aspect of women’s<br />

health is often left behind closed doors.<br />

But, menstruation, sexual health and<br />

reproductive systems are an important<br />

part of women’s health, and a lack of<br />

open conversations embeds a stigma in<br />

the discussion.<br />

According to the New York Post, 58%<br />

of women feel embarrassed when they<br />

are on their periods, and 42% of women<br />

have experienced period-shaming.<br />

<strong>The</strong> more open society is about topics<br />

like menstruation cycles, the easier it is<br />

for people who deal with them to feel<br />

comfortable getting help.<br />

“I feel like a lot of girls are getting hurt<br />

because of the stigma that surrounds<br />

women’s health,” said Ally Ferrara, a<br />

sophomore majoring in public health.<br />

“Without the right information, girls<br />

might do the wrong thing, and that can<br />

be dangerous. If they don’t know these<br />

important things, they won’t be able to<br />

get the help that they need when they<br />

need it.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> stigma around these health topics<br />

creates a sense of embarrassment for<br />

women when it comes to addressing their<br />

health issues. <strong>The</strong> more women suppress<br />

the issues, the worse they can get.<br />

“We have been almost trained to not<br />

talk about period or sexual health, and<br />

it is normal,” said Kaylin Robinson, a<br />

sophomore majoring in history and<br />

public relations on the pre-med track. “It<br />

is so important that we are educated on<br />

these things and that we talk about them<br />

openly so nobody feels ashamed to talk<br />

about these natural things.”<br />

Education is key to breaking the<br />

stigma around these topics. <strong>The</strong> more<br />

comfortable people become about<br />

educating youth and teens about their<br />

bodies, the better young girls can identify<br />

health issues they are having.<br />

Sexually transmitted diseases, breast<br />

cancer, cervical cancer, heart disease,<br />

menopause and other common health<br />

issues for women often go untreated.<br />

Learning how to check for breast<br />

cancer, knowing the signs of STDs and<br />

understanding menstrual cycles are all<br />

key when it comes to diagnosing these<br />

health issues.<br />

While there is some education in<br />

schools, there is still a lot missing.<br />

<strong>Health</strong> classes do not always cover all of<br />

these important topics when it comes to<br />

understanding women’s anatomy.<br />

A report by Thinx in 2020 said 76%<br />

of students surveyed believed they were<br />

taught more about the biology of a frog<br />

than the biology of the female body<br />

in school.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re is a lot of stigma around<br />

women’s health and lack of education<br />

around periods and sexual health,”<br />

said Priya Nangia, a junior majoring<br />

in chemistry. “<strong>The</strong>re is so much stigma<br />

around talking about those things with<br />

young girls which definitely needs to<br />

be rectified.”<br />

Discrimination in women’s health<br />

care creates obstacles on top of health<br />

issues. Discrimination stemming from<br />

gender identity or race and ethnicity can<br />

impact health care services and resources<br />

women are given.<br />

Pain is often handled differently in<br />

women of color, which can lead to lifethreatening<br />

situations.<br />

According to the Centers for Disease<br />

and Control and Prevention, Black<br />

women experience maternal mortality<br />

rates three times higher than their white<br />

counterparts. Due to this, there has been<br />

a push for more accountability with<br />

obstetricians, and in other medical fields,<br />

to check racial biases.<br />

Mistreatment of women, especially<br />

women of color and Black women,<br />

can make women weary of seeking<br />

treatment, which can worsen the issues<br />

they may be having.<br />

Misdiagnosis creates issues for<br />

women when it comes to taking care of<br />

themselves and seeking treatment.<br />

A 2021 article by MedMalFirm.<br />

com, said there is an epidemic<br />

of misdiagnosis among women<br />

because doctors view women as too<br />

emotional or as medical mysteries.<br />

“It really frustrates me that there<br />

are so many problems in the women's<br />

health care system,” said Elle Standish,<br />

a freshman majoring in criminology<br />

and criminal justice. “<strong>The</strong>re are a huge<br />

number of OB/GYNs that overprescribe<br />

the pill. <strong>The</strong>y are treating symptoms and<br />

not issues that are affecting women. It is<br />

like they are throwing darts at a wall and<br />

hoping that something sticks.”<br />

Pregnancy is another key element of<br />

women’s health that can be a struggle for<br />

women to understand and process. All<br />

aspects of pregnancy, from ultrasounds<br />

and complications to delivery, require<br />

health care and assistance.<br />

Choices Pregnancy Clinic is a local<br />

nonprofit pregnancy clinic that offers<br />

free resources to the public.<br />

“We are like a stepping stone for<br />

women that need assistance when it<br />

comes to pregnancy,” said Brook Morrow,<br />

the clinic’s nurse manager. “We offer free<br />

CW / Shelby West<br />

ultrasounds, free pregnancy tests and<br />

free pregnancy and parent education<br />

classes where both mothers and fathers<br />

can earn money to use on baby supplies<br />

just for taking these classes.”<br />

Choices Pregnancy Clinic also offers<br />

information about abortion, adoption<br />

and sexually transmitted diseases at<br />

no cost.<br />

“We have also resourced out to<br />

a number of different groups or<br />

organizations when it comes to other<br />

aspects of pregnancy that can be<br />

challenging, including pregnancy loss<br />

and post-abortion counseling,” Morrow<br />

said. “Having someone you can talk<br />

to openly about anything involving<br />

pregnancy is extremely important.”<br />

Pregnancy can be hard to deal with<br />

and understand at first, especially if it<br />

is unplanned. Morrow pointed out that<br />

college is already difficult and finding out<br />

you are pregnant can cause you to go into<br />

crisis or panic mode.<br />

According to the CDC, unintended<br />

pregnancy rates in 2011 were highest<br />

among women between the ages of 18<br />

and 24, mainly college-age women.<br />

“We want to be there just to let a<br />

woman ever sit and talk. Sometimes that<br />

is all they need. Sometimes all women<br />

need is for someone to listen to them<br />

without judgment, because they may not<br />

have that somewhere else, so we are here<br />

to support,” Morrow said.<br />

Resources like the ones at Choices<br />

Pregnancy Clinic are also offered by<br />

similar organizations and are often<br />

overlooked because people do not know<br />

they are available.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>se resources are here, and we<br />

want to be able to give them to those<br />

that need them. A lot of people use the<br />

emergency room as a way to go get a<br />

pregnancy test, which is good, but they<br />

won’t be getting all the resources that we<br />

offer here,” Morrow said.<br />

Physical health can directly correlate<br />

with mental health, which suffers greatly<br />

when women are expected to be able<br />

to control their emotions and carry on,<br />

especially for mothers.<br />

“I think we shouldn't make being a<br />

woman one more thing to worry about.<br />

Women statistically are more likely to<br />

be depressed, which is incredibly sad<br />

because mental health is so important<br />

on top of the other aspects of being a<br />

woman,” Standish said.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re have been discussions among<br />

businesses and school boards lately<br />

about whether women should be allowed<br />

leave when necessary for their menstrual<br />

cycle, which can include severe pain<br />

and discomfort.<br />

“I think personally women should be<br />

allowed time off of school and work for<br />

their periods. I think people that don’t<br />

think that are almost saying your pain<br />

really isn’t that bad, which really can<br />

invalidate people that are in severe pain,”<br />

Standish said. “Contraceptives can also<br />

lessen symptoms for some but can also<br />

really impact women’s mental health.”<br />

Stigmas around women’s health will<br />

be around until education and openness<br />

and the things that impact women are<br />

normalized. This stigma and misogyny<br />

are rooted in health care practices and<br />

the lack of research done on women’s<br />

health issues.<br />

Focusing on wellness includes seeking<br />

help when necessary. <strong>The</strong> UA Student<br />

<strong>Health</strong> Center has medical professionals<br />

who focus on a plethora of different<br />

needs, including women’s health.<br />

We have been almost<br />

trained to not talk<br />

about period or sexual<br />

health, and it is normal.<br />

It is so important that<br />

we are educated on<br />

these things and that<br />

we talk about them<br />

openly so nobody feels<br />

ashamed to talk about<br />

these natural things.<br />

KAYLA<br />


Peggy Fogg, a CRNP and women’s<br />

health provider at the Student <strong>Health</strong><br />

Center, said period pain is an issue a lot<br />

of women come in about.<br />

“Often, I discuss options to improve<br />

their menstrual cycle such as birth<br />

control pills, the contraceptive patch or<br />

vaginal ring, the Depo-Provera shot, an<br />

IUD, or the Nexplanon arm implant,”<br />

Fogg said. “This is a conversation to<br />

discuss if one of these options is the right<br />

fit for the patient.”<br />

<strong>The</strong>re is also a newfound autonomy<br />

for women in college. Problems that may<br />

have been brushed under the rug while<br />

growing up can finally be addressed in a<br />

more private matter.<br />

“Once at college, women are busy and<br />

want a solution. <strong>The</strong>y are able to address<br />

their health care needs themselves and<br />

decide this is the time to meet with a<br />

health care provider and discuss their<br />

options,” Fogg said.<br />

Get tested: Sexual health doesn’t have to be scary<br />

CW / Jo Dyess<br />



<strong>The</strong> CDC reports that 1 in 5 people<br />

in the U.S. have a sexually transmitted<br />

infection. Additionally, according to<br />

a <strong>2022</strong> report by Innerbody Research,<br />

Tuscaloosa is No. 57 on a list of cities in<br />

the U.S. with the highest STI rates.<br />

While many illnesses are openly<br />

discussed, sexually transmitted infections<br />

remain a stigmatized topic, despite their<br />

prevalence among college students.<br />

According to Hartford <strong>Health</strong>care in<br />

2021, 1 in 4<br />

college<br />

students have a sexually<br />

transmitted disease.<br />

However, due to laws protecting student<br />

privacy, exact statistics for <strong>The</strong> University<br />

of Alabama are seldom published.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Alabama Department of <strong>Health</strong><br />

reports that Tuscaloosa County has a<br />

significantly higher rate of chlamydia,<br />

gonorrhea and all stages of syphilis.<br />

“I know [the UA STI rate] is high, but<br />

I can’t give an exact number,” said Megan<br />

Williams, a doctoral student studying<br />

health education.<br />

Considering that this issue is<br />

highly prevalent, it’s as important<br />

to make students aware of how<br />

it’s being combated and the<br />

resources that are available in<br />

Tuscaloosa.<br />

In the state of Alabama, sex<br />

education is not required to be<br />

taught in public schools, and<br />

the schools that do teach it are<br />

required to emphasize abstinence.<br />

Last year, the Alabama Legislature<br />

passed HB 385 to revise the focus<br />

of sex ed content, indicating that this<br />

issue has the attention of government<br />

officials. However, this bill mostly clarified<br />

and changed terminology, continuing<br />

the state’s emphasis on delaying sexual<br />

activity and declaring premarital sex<br />

to be abnormal.<br />

In order to combat the effects of such<br />

minimal education and provide a safe<br />

atmosphere in which students can discuss<br />

sexuality freely, <strong>The</strong> University of Alabama<br />

offers courses such as the Sexuality and<br />

Society class in the New College.<br />

Alongside teaching this class, Williams<br />

conducts her own research on STI rates<br />

and sexual health within the 18-to-24<br />

age range.<br />

“Even though it’s the Bible Belt, people<br />

want to talk about it, they just don’t know<br />

how to. And, so, having that safe space<br />

allows them to use their curiosity and get a<br />

lot of questions answered that maybe they<br />

wouldn’t have otherwise,” Williams said.<br />

Discussion and education allow<br />

for students to learn about preventive<br />

measures and how to effectively<br />

communicate with sexual partners, thus<br />

lowering the STI rate.<br />

Charlotte Petonic, the assistant director<br />

of <strong>Health</strong> Promotion and Wellness,<br />

said she recognizes that sex education<br />

experiences differ greatly among<br />

new students.<br />

“When students come here to Alabama,<br />

their sexual health education varies so<br />

greatly across the country,” Petonic said.<br />

Even in a single state, a student’s school<br />

district or county can determine the type<br />

of sex ed they receive. Some programs<br />

teach that condom usage is ineffective,<br />

which can discourage students from<br />

using them.<br />

As a result, campus organizations like<br />

Project <strong>Health</strong> are attempting to give<br />

every student a baseline understanding of<br />

this topic in order to even out the level of<br />

knowledge on campus.<br />

“When I think of college towns in<br />

general, we have a lot of access for our<br />

students. We have the health center here,<br />

there’s several great nonprofits, and then<br />

there is the health department that’s really<br />

great,” Petonic said.<br />

Those nonprofits and organizations<br />

include University Medical Center,<br />

Whatley <strong>Health</strong> Services and Five<br />

Horizons <strong>Health</strong> Services. <strong>The</strong> latter<br />

provides preventative education as well as<br />

STI care.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re’s also a level of personal<br />

responsibility in the lowering of STI<br />

rates that includes communication and<br />

preventive measures.<br />

“I think the first thing is that students<br />

who are choosing to be sexually active<br />

need to know how to properly protect<br />

themselves,” Petonic said. That means<br />

using a protective barrier during sex.<br />

Protective barriers are available through<br />

the University’s distribution program<br />

on campus.<br />

In the end, the department’s goals<br />

include testing, medical care and better<br />

education for students.<br />

“We have services here where we’ll do<br />

education and outreach for classrooms,<br />

organizations and anything like that,”<br />

Petonic said.

HEALTH<br />

<strong>March</strong> 3, <strong>2022</strong><br />

OPINION: Decriminalize it!<br />

Alabama’s uncertain future with cannabis<br />



What is SB 46?<br />

On May 17, 2021, Alabama became the<br />

37th state to legalize medical marijuana.<br />

A 102-page bill, SB 46 was authored<br />

by Republican Sen. Tim Melson who<br />

represents Alabama’s 1st District.<br />

SB 46 represents history in the making.<br />

It legalizes the use of medical cannabis<br />

for the following disorders and illnesses:<br />

autism spectrum disorder, cancer-related<br />

cachexia, Crohn's disease, depression,<br />

epilepsy or conditions<br />

causing seizures, HIV/<br />

AIDS-related nausea<br />

or weight loss, panic<br />

disorder, Parkinson’s<br />

disease, post-traumatic<br />

stress disorder, sickle cell<br />

anemia, spasticity-related<br />

diseases, terminal illnesses,<br />

Tourette syndrome, and chronic pain.<br />

Under SB 46, medical marijuana can<br />

be sold in tablets, capsules, tinctures, gels,<br />

oils, creams, suppositories, transdermal<br />

patches, nebulizers and liquids, or oils for<br />

use in an inhaler. Marijuana cannot be<br />

sold as “raw plant material,” products to be<br />

smoked or vaped, or in food products.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Alabama Medical Cannabis<br />

Commission will oversee the<br />

sales of marijuana in the state.<br />

<strong>The</strong> commission consists of a<br />

14-member board of medical,<br />

legal and agricultural professionals who<br />

will manage a seed-to-sale program.<br />

Alabama’s historical attitude<br />

toward drug use and<br />

imprisonment<br />

In Alabama, possession of marijuana<br />

without a medical marijuana card or a<br />

cultivation license will remain a Class B<br />

felony. Class B felonies typically result in<br />

jail sentences of two to 20 years, with fines<br />

up to $30,000.<br />

Alabama has historically had an<br />

intolerant attitude toward marijuana usage.<br />

With this atmosphere of stringent policing<br />

and harsh punishments, the future of<br />

medical marijuana looks dangerous.<br />

All Alabamians deserve<br />

equal justice under<br />

the law, but from<br />

court fees to civil asset<br />

forfeiture to capital<br />

punishment, our state’s<br />

justice system contains<br />

a range of policies that<br />

often take a heavier toll<br />

on people who live<br />

in poverty.<br />


<strong>The</strong>re are many obstacles to medical<br />

marijuana usage in the state of Alabama<br />

that SB 46 will have to overcome. <strong>The</strong><br />

Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and<br />

Justice writes that “Alabama’s failure to<br />

expand Medicaid limits public funding of<br />

drug treatment and rehabilitation. Options<br />

are patchy and underfunded, leading to<br />

overreliance on prisons for people who<br />

need medical treatment, not punishment.”<br />

Finances aren’t only a barrier to<br />

medicine and health; they’re also a barrier<br />

to democratic ideas, such as voting.<br />

Alabama law denies voting to<br />

thousands of eligible Alabamians<br />

who cannot repay court fines<br />

and fees.<br />

“All Alabamians deserve<br />

equal justice under the<br />

law,” said Alabama Arise,<br />

a nonprofit that works to<br />

promote state policies that<br />

improve the lives of lowincome<br />

Alabamians. “But<br />

from court fees to civil<br />

asset forfeiture to capital<br />

punishment, our state’s<br />

justice system<br />

contains a range of policies that often<br />

take a heavier toll on people who live<br />

in poverty.”<br />

Nonviolent drug offenses,<br />

prisons and people of color<br />

In fact, drug offenses account for more<br />

felony convictions and new prisons than<br />

any other offense, says the AACLJ. <strong>The</strong><br />

Alabama Sentencing Commission reports<br />

that felony convictions for drug possession<br />

alone rose 25% from 2017 to 2019.<br />

This strict policing of drug usage has<br />

lasting effects in the state. According to<br />

the Prison Policy Initiative, a nonprofit<br />

aiming to expose the harms of mass<br />

incarceration, Alabama has a ratio of 946<br />

inmates per 100,000 citizens, the fifthhighest<br />

incarceration rate in the world.<br />

This horrifying reality must be remedied.<br />

Unfortunately, the state has no plans of<br />

slowing down its mass incarceration. In<br />

October 2021, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a $1.3<br />

billion prison construction bill into law.<br />

“Achieving a solution to our problems<br />

rather than a court mandate was<br />

paramount, and that’s what happened<br />

today,” Ivey said before signing the bill.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re is nothing paramount about<br />

strengthening a police state. Alabama<br />

politicians completely ignore the prison<br />

crisis in favor of profitable private prisons.<br />

“Our system is in a current<br />

humanitarian crisis. And every question<br />

cannot be answered with new prisons. <strong>The</strong><br />

buildings will not do anything with the<br />

culture of corruption in our prisons,” said<br />

state Rep. Chris England, the chair of the<br />

Alabama Democratic Party.<br />

<strong>The</strong> bill puts the state in debt of $785<br />

million, while another $400 million from<br />

the $2.1 billion COVID state relief funds<br />

went into funding the two men’s prisons.<br />

State Senate Finance and Taxation<br />

General Fund Chair Greg Albritton said<br />

that the bill is a “huge step in curing<br />

many of the difficulties we have.”<br />

This rhetoric is archaic and tired,<br />

and it needs to end. <strong>The</strong> best way<br />

to cure the difficulties happening<br />

in Alabama prisons is not to<br />

build more; it’s to decrease the<br />

prison population as a whole.<br />

Decreasing the prison<br />

population begins with<br />

expunging all incarcerated<br />

people with nonviolent drug<br />

offenses. This alone will<br />

decrease nearly 15%<br />

of Alabama’s<br />

CW / Pearl Langley<br />

entire prison population, according to<br />

Alabama Appleseed.<br />

Decriminalization of drugs<br />

SB 46 is a surprising step forward, but<br />

it’s an embarrassing compromise that still<br />

restricts and criminalizes marijuana use<br />

for those who do not have life-threatening,<br />

debilitating diseases and illnesses.<br />

A poll conducted by Yahoo! News and<br />

Marist found that around 75% of marijuana<br />

users do not use the drug for medical<br />

or pain purposes but recreationally, for<br />

relaxation, socialization and creativity.<br />

Marijuana deserves decriminalization.<br />

It’s important to note that America’s<br />

attitude toward drugs has been hostile<br />

and dangerous since President Richard<br />

Nixon declared a war on drugs in the ’70s.<br />

<strong>The</strong> war on drugs, rather than improving<br />

the health of American communities, has<br />

failed, the Global Commission on Drug<br />

Policy said.<br />

“Arresting and incarcerating tens of<br />

millions of these people in recent decades<br />

has filled prisons and destroyed lives of<br />

families without reducing the availability<br />

of illicit drugs or the power of criminal<br />

organizations,” the commission concluded.<br />

<strong>The</strong> response from states like Oregon<br />

has been to decriminalize drugs, and<br />

sometimes all of them.<br />

“Criminalization keeps people in the<br />

shadows. It keeps people from seeking<br />

out help, from telling their doctors, from<br />

telling their family members that they<br />

have a problem,” said Mike Schmidt,<br />

district attorney for Multnomah County,<br />

Oregon, home to Portland. Schmidt<br />

supported Measure 110, which legalized<br />

5B<br />

and decriminalized all drugs in Oregon.<br />

<strong>The</strong> result? A decrease in opioidrelated<br />

emergencies, found several<br />

studies. In a state like Alabama, where<br />

the opioid crisis is rampant, especially<br />

in rural communities, the legalization of<br />

drugs, especially marijuana, could be a<br />

game-changer.<br />

Portugal, which decriminalized drugs<br />

in 2001, has seen more than just a decrease<br />

in opioid-related incidents. <strong>The</strong> nation,<br />

which used to have the worst rates of<br />

drug use in the European Union, now<br />

has rates far lower than the European and<br />

U.S. averages. Drug treatment percentages<br />

increased, HIV diagnoses dropped<br />

dramatically, drug overdose fatalities<br />

declined, and court<br />

cases for drug offenses<br />

dropped by more than<br />

60%, according to the<br />

Drug Policy Alliance.<br />

Not only does drug<br />

decriminalization have<br />

the ability to save states and<br />

countries money, it has the ability<br />

to save livelihoods lost to the dangers<br />

of underground and illicit drug abuse<br />

and addiction.<br />

By decriminalizing drugs, the stigma<br />

surrounding seeking help also drastically<br />

decreases, leading to a more accepting and<br />

healthy society overall.<br />

Only 18% of people with drug use<br />

disorders receive treatment for their<br />

addiction, according to the<br />

National Institute on Drug<br />

Abuse. “Stigma impedes access<br />

to care and reduces the quality of care<br />

individuals receive. People with addiction,<br />

especially those who inject drugs, are often<br />

distrusted when presenting for care in<br />

emergency departments or when visiting<br />

other providers. <strong>The</strong>y are often treated in<br />

a demeaning and dehumanizing way,” the<br />

institute said.<br />

<strong>The</strong> National Survey of Drug Use and<br />

<strong>Health</strong> reported that “fear of negative<br />

opinions by neighbors or people in their<br />

community is one of the reasons people<br />

who know they need treatment for a<br />

substance use disorder avoid seeking it.”<br />

Stigma kills. Decriminalization and<br />

compassion are proven to save and remedy<br />

ongoing crises.<br />

What can be done?<br />

<strong>The</strong>re is no better time than now to<br />

decriminalize natural drugs like marijuana.<br />

Not only will it alleviate the ongoing crisis<br />

in Alabama prisons, natural drugs have<br />

an array of health benefits, like reducing<br />

anxiety, relieving pain, killing cancer and<br />

slowing tumor growth, and stimulating<br />

appetites in people with cancer and AIDS.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are several student organizations<br />

at the University that focus on or feature<br />

issues involving the corrupt prison system<br />

and its relationships to drugs, like Tide<br />

Against Time and AL Students Against<br />

Prisons. This is an issue that students care<br />

about, and it is through their efforts that<br />

we may see the end of mass incarceration.<br />

Every student can be a part of the<br />

solution. Contact your Alabama state<br />

representatives and state senators to let<br />

them know that community health and<br />

safety must be a priority, and that building<br />

more prisons is not reflective of the legacy<br />

we want to build.<br />

If Alabama wants to prove itself to<br />

be a leader in the future, it needs to stop<br />

compromising on what a majority of<br />

Americans want and decriminalize nature,<br />

once and for all.<br />

Shop Boots,<br />

Jeans, & Hats<br />

at <strong>The</strong> Wharf<br />

in Northport<br />

220 Mcfarland Blvd N (205)-752-2075

6B<br />

HEALTH<br />

<strong>March</strong> 3, <strong>2022</strong>

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