College life can be busy, busy, busy. With finals looming, students are concerned about homework, grades and graduating on time. But there is another thing they should be concerned about: their health.

Robbye Kinkade, a clinical assistant professor at Stony Brook, spoke to a group of about 30 undergraduate students at a conference sponsored by the Health and Wellness Living Learning Center called “Health Matters” on Nov. 22 at the HDV/GLS Center. The conference addressed different types of diseases prevalent among college students. The students, many of whom are interested in the field of health care, participated in presentations and workshops from fellow students in different areas, such as mental illness and infections diseases.

Some campus organizations such as Campus Recreation were present, represented by the Manager and Assistant Director of the Fitness & Wellness Programming, Amanda Turnbull and Dean Bowen, respectively. Also present was Camp Kesem-Stony Brook—an organization that caters to the needs of children of cancer patients—represented by its directors, juniors Tobin George and Jamie Leonard.

Kinkade, the event’s keynote speaker, emphasized the importance of health awareness.

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“It’s crucial,” she said. “Student health is crucial, not only here in Stony Brook but all over the United States.”

And it is something to think about.

Princeton University is in the public eye this year for a meningitis outbreak, according to a report by The New York Times. Meningitis is the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can be spread through kissing and sharing drinks.

Aaron Schwartz, a freshman engineering major at Princeton University, said in a Skype interview that Princeton has been taking measures to make sure that the disease does not spread.

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“They actually distributed these cups that say, ‘Mine, not yours,’” he said, showing the small red cup with the words printed in white. “They’re specifically trying to keep students from sharing drinks.”

Eight cases have been confirmed since March. Though none of the cases were fatal, the infections caused by the bacteria can seriously injure or even kill the infected. Princeton’s administration has decided to distribute Bexsero, a vaccine approved in Europe, but not in the United States.

Kinkade said that the reason why some vaccines are approved in some areas of the world but not in others is because different types of vaccines affect people differently. “But, if it’s been proven safe and effective,” she said. “Then you have to consider that, versus the alternative, which is meningitis, which is deadly.”

Cases of the same type of meningitis have also been reported and confirmed at Monmouth University and the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Just last week, Princeton posted on their website that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially recommends that Princeton undergraduate and graduate students as well as staff take the vaccine.

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 “The specified groups were recommended by the CDC to receive the vaccine because young adults and people with certain medical conditions are at increased risk of getting meningitis, especially those who live in close quarters, such as dormitories,” said Princeton.

At Stony Brook, there are various resources and centers that students can turn to in a medical emergency such as the Student Health Center and the University Hospital.

“Sometimes students don’t feel comfortable going to those places because they’re afraid of being seen by other students,” Kinkade said. “I would suggest they go to faculty, like myself, and share what some of their issues are and then we can make referrals to campus or off-campus, as necessary.”

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