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Harvard Women’s Cabinet to Work with Undergraduate Council to Launch Health Care Initiative

The Harvard College Women's Center is located the the basement of Canaday Hall.
The Harvard College Women's Center is located the the basement of Canaday Hall. By Truong L. Nguyen
By Darley A.C. Boit, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard Women’s Cabinet, a student group dedicated to addressing gender issues on campus, is aiming to partner with the Undergraduate Council on an initiative to centralize health care resources at the University.

Women’s Cabinet co-chairs Sawyer L. Taylor-Arnold ’23 and Jailene Ramos ’24 are spearheading the initiative, which seeks to improve access to health care for students from gender minority backgrounds. Taylor-Arnold and Ramos pointed to the University’s decentralized structure as a cause of confusion about what resources are available to students.

“We’re trying to figure out ways to centralize resources relating to health care, and health care services to make sure that students know where to access health care services on campus, like what’s available to them, what’s covered, how they can be reimbursed, and then also specifically thinking for services that are used by students who are gender minorities,” Taylor-Arnold said.

Ramos noted Harvard University Health Services offers Plan B for $15 and the school’s health care insurance covers transgender conversion therapy and hormone replacement therapies, but many students on campus are not aware of these services.

Taylor-Arnold and Ramos said they decided to begin the project by gathering information on student awareness of health care offerings.

“We want to know just how prevalent of an issue it is,” Ramos said. “Which is why we decided that our big project was going to be to create a survey because there is no data on campus.”

This survey, which will be sent out to all undergraduates, will be essential to decide the next steps of the Women’s Cabinet health care initiative, which may include creating a repository of available resources or issuing recommendations to HUHS, Taylor-Arnold said.

The cabinet plans to distribute its survey with the help of the Undergraduate Council. Travis A. Johnson ’24, representative of Winthrop House and chief of diversity, equity, and inclusion on the Council, is collaborating on the group’s initiative.

“It’s through him that we’re going to all work on this survey,” Ramos said. “Once we have the final product, we can send it out to the entire Harvard College campus.”

To plan out its initiative, Women’s Cabinet has divided itself into four committees: mental health; sexual, reproductive, and menstrual health; BGLTQ health care; and financial insurance.

“This specific initiative we have chosen about HUHS has a lot of groundwork that needs to be done, so the splitting of responsibilities and faith in other committees was a necessity,” Sidra Naheed ’23, a cabinet member on the Women’s Cabinet BGLTQ committee, wrote in an email.

The cabinet has also updated its membership policies ahead of the project. Previously open only to representatives from student organizations, the group now welcomes individual students to join.

Ramos and Taylor-Arnold said they value the contributions of all cabinet members to the launch of the health care initiative.

“We want it to be an equal place where everybody feels like they’re contributing and stuff like that and everybody’s doing good for the Harvard community,” said Ramos.

—Staff Writer Darley A. C. Boit can be reached at darley.boit@thecrimson.com.

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CollegeUndergraduate CouncilStudent GroupsUHS