Student Health Advisory Board combats COVID-19 disinformation

December 20, 2021

A student-moderated COVID-19 speaker series offers an antidote to disinformation about the pandemic, vaccines and more thanks to ASU’s Student Health Advisory Board and the ASU faculty and staff who spoke at the virtual events.

The series, which is available in one YouTube video, covers a wide range of topics concerning COVID-19. Topics include COVID testing, how vaccines work, the mental health effects of the pandemic, the impact on our businesses and environment, life after vaccination and more.

The Zoom webinar was hosted by the Student Health Advisory Board to educate and encourage students to ask questions about COVID-19. 

In the series, professional staff members who work on COVID responses for ASU speak directly to students. They answer questions from students and share their knowledge on COVID-19.

Renee Kasten, a senior studying biological sciences and undergraduate representative of the Student Health Advisory Board, was the student moderator of the series. As an undergraduate representative of the board, Kasten advocates for students’ needs regarding mental and physical health. 

“I basically keep my ears open to what the students want, what the students need from my health perspective, whether that's physical or mental health. It’s just listening to my peers and then delivering that to the professional staff so that they understand what the students need,” Kasten said. 

According to Kasten, the idea for the video series came from concerns that misinformation was being passed to students about COVID-19.

“I had brought up some concerns in some of our meetings about the amount of misinformation about COVID,” Kasten said.

There is a lot of information about COVID-19 that can be hard for students to sort through, said Kasten.

“I brought it up and was like, I want to do something, just to get people to understand about it. We had brought up the idea of doing a webinar series and just getting experts in from ASU and from the Arizona area to be able to deliver that information in an easy-to-understand format,” Kasten said. 

The video series is designed to curate COVID-19 information so students could find it all in one place.

“The amount of misinformation out there is absolutely crazy. And it's about finding it and understanding accurate information is out there from people who actually know what they're talking about,” Kasten said. 

For most students, finding accurate information can be challenging. Especially when deciding what sources to trust, said Kasten. 

“I think the biggest piece of advice is to not take one source and call it good,” Kasten said. 

“Understand that you do have a blind spot, and then you do need to fill it in, but you need to fill it in with accurate information. So don't just go with one source, go with multiple that are accurate and that you feel really give you the best view of COVID,” Kasten said. 

In the video series, multiple experts share their knowledge on COVID-19, including Associate Vice President of Counseling and Health Services Aaron Krasnow, Assistant Director for Health and Clinical Support Services Valerie Harris, Medical Director of ASU Health Services Mario Islas and Medical Epidemiologist Sarah Scott from Maricopa County Public Health. This was done to ensure that a wide range of knowledge about COVID-19 could be available to Sun Devils who want to learn more. 

“The purpose of the videos is to get out accurate information about everything COVID. And to also get people to open up and understand that when you look at a pandemic, you have to look at it from every single view,” Kasten said. 

Sun Devils can watch the video series on the ASU Student Life YouTube channel. More information about ASU’s response to COVID-19 can be found through ASU Health Services.