Peter Konwerski: Resources for peer-to-peer support

The stress of exams is high, and the academic workload is piling up.

At this time, it is more important to remember that we are all responsible for supporting each other. The University has a number of new and recently improved resources you can take advantage of so, together, we can create a community of care.

We have already seen an uptick in University Counseling Center visits since we implemented our free short-term service, but in the spirit of support, when you see someone struggling, I encourage you to say something. There continues to be a stigma surrounding mental health issues, and despite being able to have six free University Counseling Center appointments, many students might not seek out the help they need. If you see someone who might be dealing with depression, encourage him or her to call UCC and receive a consultation right away.

The role of peers in bystander intervention is important, whether they are members of a student group, residential community, academic society, Greek letter organization, club or varsity sports team. All of us, including students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents and friends can play a part in supporting other Colonials.

For some, that might be extra assistance when you notice a friend whose use of alcohol or drugs is increasingly worrisome. Look out for each other, and call for help whenever you see a friend struggle with substance abuse.

We must also stand against sexual violence as a community. It is critical that we respect each other, no matter our genders, and refuse to tolerate any type of harassment or hate in the community.

This means taking care of your friends when you go out, using the newly automated 4-RIDE system late at night, standing-up for one another in the face of inappropriate behavior and speaking up and reporting behavior that is not in line with the values of the community.

If we all stay connected in this spirit of community, I have no doubt that we will thrive here on campus. Be in touch with the Office of the Dean of Students if we can ever support you in achieving your academic goals and aspirations. Let’s all work together to make sure every Colonial counts.

Peter Konwerski is the dean of students and a senior associate vice president.

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