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Student wellness worth more than free stuff

Student wellness worth more than free stuff  (credit: Eunice Oh/Staff Artist) Student wellness worth more than free stuff (credit: Eunice Oh/Staff Artist)

In light of increasing national attention to obesity, as well as the recent campus and administrative response to a “stress culture” at Carnegie Mellon, University Health Services’ day-long event “Exploring Health, Discovering Wellness” on Feb. 21 in the University Center was a timely move for students to reflect on their own well-being. There were, however, a few areas in which the event could have improved.

The American Medical Association (AMA) proclaimed obesity as a disease in August of last year, and while not all agree with the designation, it does lend credence to doctors looking to prescribe medication and to organizations looking to fundraise toward reducing obesity rates in America.

In a country stereotyped as overweight — where 27.1 percent of adults could be classified as obese — these steps are necessary. Regardless of the reasoning behind University Health Services’ event, any solid attempt at helping young adults stay healthy is worthwhile.

A positive aspect of this event was the healthy dining additions for campus locations. However, these options were only offered for the day and were not highly advertised. Why not make each of these healthy options permanent additions? The addition of these items permanently could have signified an extended campaign for campus health.

Housing and Dining Services, or even the eateries themselves, could have more actively advertised if these dishes were only going to be available only for the day of the event. While undergraduate students might not have the chance to get these dishes again, they did get to practice their healthy cooking if they attended the interactive cooking demonstrations from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Graduate students and faculty even got their own demonstration in Schatz Dining Hall, ensuring that no member of the campus community felt left out of this event.

The welcome area on the first floor of the UC seemed to be the most accessible and attended part of the event. Passers-by could take a moment to write what health and wellness meant to them on a card and post it to a board to receive a free reusable water bottle.

Such free items are part of a trend for the administration. They use free goods to draw people in, but often they become a crutch on which events and activities rely, similar to when a professor flourishes candy or cookies to capture students’ attentions. This was nearly the case for “Exploring Health, Discovering Wellness,” since many people just grabbed a water bottle and left. Groups planning an event should be cautious of this tendency in the future, and should try to advertise more selling points than free gifts.