With change comes uncertainty.
This July, Temple Health Empowerment Office joined forces with Tuttleman Counseling and Prevention Services. For the past two years, THEO operated as an independent branch within Student Affairs. Before that, it was part of Student Health Services.
According to John DiMino, director of Tuttleman Counseling
and Prevention Services, the reason THEO was no longer permitted to work as an independent branch of Student Affairs was because it needed to be within a department.
“THEO had a person in charge, but not a director,” DiMino said.
Michael McNeil, former coordinator of THEO, announced over the summer that he would be leaving the university.
McNeil completed his last day at Temple Sept. 1. He is now employed at Columbia University as senior health educator.
Tiffany Gallagher, former health educator for THEO, left Temple Aug. 25, and now works at Villanova University in the Center for Health and Wellness Education.
THEO, located in the basement of Mitten Hall, offers students preventative health education. According to its Web site, THEO offers programs dealing with topics based on abstinence, alcohol and sex, communication, diversity, homophobia
and heterosexism, relationships, safer sex/protection methods (including giving out condoms for a discounted price), self-esteem, sexuality, STIs (including HIV) and stress/time management.
With the merging with Tuttleman Prevention and Counseling
services, many student volunteers, or peer educators, were distraught about the change in authority.
According to a source who works at THEO, one of the main concerns is the different philosophies of THEO and Tuttleman,
because THEO is about health promotion, and man Counseling is about counseling.
“Even though they changed the name to Tuttleman Counseling Prevention Services, John DiMino is a psychologist. He doesn’t understand health empowerment; he doesn’t understand the health knowledge piece. He thinks it’s unnecessary. So he’s unwilling to give us as much money as Michael was for programs and education,” the source said.
DiMino said that he does, in fact, understand the importance of THEO, and by being part of the umbrella program of Tuttleman Counseling and Prevention Services, THEO will be strengthened by more organization.
“Prevention will be more of a focus,” he said. “It will be a better communication unit, and the coordinators
will meet weekly.”
THEO’s health prevention aspect will be incorporated into Tuttleman Counseling Services’ existing programs; Campus and Alcohol Substance Abuse, Sexual Assault and Counseling Education and Conflict Education Resource Team.
“Because of the similarity of the programs, we decided THEO should report as the fourth prevention unit,” DiMino said.
Peer educators were fearful that some of the programs would be lost, due to the new setup. Those fears will not come to fruition, because the only program which will be turned over to the Student Health Services will be the tobacco cessation.
According to McNeil, THEO was founded as “The Health Education Office” as a part of Student Health Services in 1993, and worked for almost 11 years under Student Health. The new THEO name took effect Nov. 17, 2003, when the office was still part of Student Health.
Mark Denys, associate director of Student Health, said THEO dispersed from Student Health when it became part of Temple Hospital and broke away from Student Affairs.
With no current coordinator for THEO, graduate extern Alicia Czachowski is taking over many of the responsibilities.
“People freak out about change,” Czachowski said of some of the peer educators’ complaints. “So far, I think we’re going to be just fine. Things will be a little different with no senior staff, but things will get back to normal.”
The source working at THEO said they felt that the reason why McNeil stepped down was because of THEO’s involvement with Tuttleman Counseling Services. McNeil said this was not the case.
“I was offered an opportunity to be a part of the Alice! Health Promotion Program at Columbia,” McNeil said in an e-mail. “I have always wanted to be involved with the best and Alice! is that. No disrespect to Temple, but my feeling is that Columbia
has a better grasp on health promotion and the importance to the mission of the institution.”
THEO will still be giving out condoms at a reduced cost, as well as all its normal services, even though a senior staff is not yet in place.
“Each program is stronger,” DiMino said of the merge.
“My education to THEO is strong, and I don’t want to miss a beat.”
Rebecca Carroll can be reached at email@example.com.