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Let’s Talk Health Equity: Engaging students in discourse through an interactive book display

What HEALTH means to SDSU

In 2021 the San Diego State University Library received $1,500 in the Collection Equity and Outreach Award from the Network of the National Library of Medicine, Region 5 to promote diversity and inclusion in health literature. Over the 2021-2022 academic year we purchased 54 books addressing health related topics affecting underrepresented groups. In Fall 2022 we created an interactive display in the research services area of the library to promote these additions to our collection.

Along with featuring some of the books purchased with the grant, we included a writing prompt and sticky notes. The writing prompt was simple: Let’s Talk Health Equity.  We also included a poster with additional information about the grant, goals, and questions to encourage further reflection on the topic.

We received 72 comments via sticky notes over the course of one month at the beginning of the Fall 2022 semester.  After taking down the display we reviewed the comments and sorted them into categories. From these categories we came up with 13 separate themes. Below is a list of the comments we received sorted by category. 

Getting enough sleep!
Full nights sleep
Negating things to become healthy

Not wearing a mask

Not going to work
No joint pain
No back pain :) 
Not being in massive debt, because sickness means hospital bills
Having enough money so I don’t worry about everything 
Getting social w/ others, Getting out
Having friendships/ relationships/ support 
Lookin for people to vibe with :) and party afropadre69 and to go to punk shows
Time- time to be with loved ones 
(Being happy) Having Immaculate Rizz :) 
Getting hoes
Infinite hoes! 
Bodily autonomy 
Having autonomy over my body
Looking fit
Look good, feel good, play good, get paid good
Jacked and Stacked 
Raving + Snowboardn
Being in shape
Work out 
When you aren't sad regarding your body :)
Looking at myself naked in the mirror being proud
to take care of yourself 
Feeling good about yourself + Being able to do whatever you love
Self love &  healthy boundaries
Prioritize health + body+ mind over all <3
Being really stoned
Nothing, yolo, rip drugs
weed vape
Being happy, feeling good, whatever that means 4 u
Prerequisite for happiness <3
Making sure everyone around is happy + content (HAPPY VIBEZ ONLY)
Gal 4:28 "But the Jerusalem that is above is free + she is our mother."
Peace & Justice 
Peace of mind :)
Peace of mind
Feeling good
Feeling good and slay
Feeling content
Bitches + Gym + Learning
Getting enough sleep (8 hours) 2) Being in shape #) [De-stressing myself through selfcare] (music, drawing, talking to friends/family)
Loving yourself and being happy :)
Health is wealth

Students have their own way of communicating about health, often using slang, jokes, and pop culture references. The following are words and references that we had to Google. 

  • Plandle -  a mix between the words “plastic” and “handle” to describe cheap alcohol that comes in a plastic container with a handle 

  • TFGH [Multiple possibilities] - one possible definition, Task Force for Global Health 

  • Rizz - charisma

  • Deesh - plural for douche 

  • Gal 4:28 

We were surprised and excited to receive so many sticky note comments for this display.  It was encouraging to see students willing to share their thoughts on health equity.  There were so many different perspectives on health beyond what we had originally expected.  One of the most surprising themes that came from the comments was the connection between relationships and health.

These comments were informal and had to fit on a 3X3 sticky note. There wasn't room for a lot of context or other details.  We are interested in finding other ways to continue the conversation. 

New display for 2023 Collection Equity and Outreach Award! We will use student comments to inform our purchases for this year's grant. With this new display we would like to consider new ways to continue and deepen the conversation about what health means to our students