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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Changes to SWA program

<st Carls are familiar with their Student Wellness Adviser, or SWA, through posters in bathroom stalls (SWA stalls), weekly articles in this paper (SWArticles), office hours (SWAffice hours) and programs. But next year, the program will undergo major reforms to better suit Carls’ needs.

The SWAs aim to educate Carleton about health-related issues. According to SWA program assistant Leslie Rutherford ’10, the SWA program is an “educating resource about specific genres of health.” These genres include physical health, such as proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep habits; mental health, which includes stress management; sexual health; and drug and alcohol-related issues.

Although the program has made some changes over the years, such as modifying programming, the new reforms will be more drastic. One of the reasons for this change is structural alterations. When the program’s head, Cathy Carlson, became a Dean of Students, she could no longer lead the SWAs, and passed the reins to the Myers/Nourse hall director, Chloe Coenen.

Under new leadership, the SWAs will implement several changes. “Our programming will be more focused on these core areas in each residence hall,” explained Coenen, speaking of the four categories of wellness mentioned above, as opposed to the current programs on any wellness-related area. This emphasis on programming will move the SWAs away from a counseling role in favor of a stronger focus on education.

The SWAs will not only be modifying their educating, but also their learning. According to Coenen, “We’re going to have more ongoing trainings throughout the year.” Currently, the SWAs undergo training only at the beginning of the year. In order to fit in more training and program planning, the SWAs will have their number of hours raised from five to eight. To accommodate the greater number of individual hours, the number of SWAs will be cut, dropping to eight, all based in a residence hall.

Having fewer SWAs will be a major change. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens when you lose the co-SWA,” commented SWA Annie Mark ’12. She predicts more collaboration between the SWAs for each dorm, to replace the loss of each SWA’s partner. Despite having fewer workers, the increased hours means that more time will go into not only hosting programs, but planning for them. “I’m optimistic for the future of the program,” said Mark.

Another way to make the smaller staff work effectively is through collaboration with non-SWAs. For example, the program is already beginning to encourage SWAs to work with residential advisors and hall directors. Hopefully, promoting communication between residential leaders will make the SWAs better resources for students.

Finally, the procedures and regulations of the SWA program will be codified. Specifically, the SWAs will work to create written policies and expectations. “We’re trying to make it a lot more concrete, so we know what works and what doesn’t,” said Rutherford.

Some of the changes are already being implemented. For example, SWAs are attending their peers’ programs to help evaluate them and thus improve the quality of programs offered to the Carleton community. In addition, many SWAs are already putting in extra hours, and collaborating with other residential staff.

The goal of these reforms is to not only improve the educational services offered by the SWAs, but also to boost their credibility. Ideally, well-planned, effective SWA programs will draw more Carls, and improve the community’s health education. As Coenen put it, “I hope that students will want to come to SWA programs.”

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