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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Next school year will bring big changes to SWA program

<hanges are coming to the Student Wellness Advisory program related to a shift in philosophy and structural set up. The modifications stem from the SWA’s dynamic mindset after a reevaluation of what works best for  Carleton  students. “Our general strategy is to find what wellness is for students,” said SWA program director Chloe Coenen.

Among the most visible changes will be a new name for the program. Currently, SWAs are known as  Student Wellness Advisors; in the future, the acronym will stand for Student Wellness Advocates.  “We wanted to move away from the advisor mentality,”said Elise Gurney ‘13, the SWA for Musser Hall. Collectively, the SWAs felt that the term “advisor” has professional connotations, whereas“advocates” reflects their goal of promoting healthy lifestyles, rather than offering advice better suited to be given by medical professionals. The change in name is more symbolic about [our] shift in philosophy,” explained Coenen. “We want to be advocating for healthy lifestyles.”

The second change is that the SWAs will no longer be based residentially. Instead, they will try to target students who do not live in residential halls. “We’re making choices based on feedback to the programs we’re doing right now” said Coenen. For example, the SWAs found that when they set up an interactive table in Sayles about perceptions of alcohol consumption, they had a much higher participation rate and a larger pool of positive feedback. Thus, the SWAs decided to make their programs more accessible and public to all students, not only those living in residential halls. However, this does not mean that they will not continue to travel around to study breaks. “We will still be speaking with RAs,” said Karen Eash ’13, the Goodhue Hall SWA. They will also be holding regular office hours in the Wellness Center for students to stop by and ask advice about healthier lifestyles. “We’re trying to reach everybody,” said Eash.

In addition, the SWAs will possibly be creating public SWA stalls in bathrooms outside of the residential halls, in hopes of reaching a wider range of students. Another thought is to have private SWA sessions available to students who want a presentation focused specifically for a small groups of students, based on their health advice needs. “I think it will help us reach a bigger audience at school,” said Chantal Donahue ’13, the Burton SWA. “The goal is to be more accessible.”

However, nothing is set in stone yet as the majority of the changes will be enacted during the 2011-2012 school year. Currently, the SWAs are in the process of finalizing their plans, to get ready to change based on the needs of the student community. “But we’re still discussing the details,” said Eric Leppink ’13, the SWA for Myers Hall. “We want to be open to always making it better,” added Coenen.

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