PUN groups continue to care about, advocate for student health

At Hastings College, the Peer Umbrella Network (PUN) covers multiple student groups on campus that work to provide education surrounding health related topics. The focus of PUN groups are to provide peer education, where students teach or provide support to one another. 

A few of the groups that fall under PUN are the Peer HIV Education Organization (PHIVE-O) and the Student Health Advisory Council (SHAC). These student-lead groups aim to educate their peers about important health-related topics. SHAC focuses on broad health education, and plans booths and activities to spread information and awareness.

“SHAC is invested in encouraging fellow students to take charge of their health and promote causes surrounding physical health. We frequently create booths to educate our peers about their health, discussing issues such as flu vaccines, heart disease, blood donation and more. We’re working with the South Heartland District Health Department this month to bring flu vaccines to campus for both insured and uninsured students, so our students can be their healthiest this year,” said Alianna Higgins, SHAC president and PHIVE-O member.

PHIVE-O aims to promote relevant conversations surrounding sexual health, especially but not limited to the context of HIV prevention. 

“PHIVE-O manages the condom dispensers seen in each dorm building’s laundry room, and we also take a day to go into the first-year CORE100 classrooms to discuss consent and HIV prevention. We’ll be creating several events this year for World AIDS Day, including a chapel service and vigil,” Higgins said.

The main goal of these two groups is to provide peer based education surrounding important topics related to health. Promoting conversations about health related topics helps students on campus feel more educated and gain more information about topics that affect them. The groups also provide important resources students can use.

“PUN groups are essential to maintaining student health on campus. Students are significantly more likely to take charge of their health and well-being when the education surrounding it is provided by students, for students. It’s a strong source of accessible, inexpensive preventive and social support. When this sort of education comes from older adults that students don’t feel they can connect with, they are significantly less likely to take the steps to ensure that they are safe and healthy in their everyday lives,” Higgins said. 

SHAC meets bi-weekly on Thursdays at 11:50 to plan events and discuss health related issues. PHIVE-O accepts membership applications in the spring, and members receive training in order to present information and work in the group. They meet weekly to plan presentations and events.