The Health Benefits of Altruism

This blog post was originally published on October 7, 2014.

It takes on many forms: paying it forward, peer-to-peer support, volunteering, being there for a friend or partner. Altruism, the concern for well-being of others, is a powerful part of overall wellness. Doing things for other people can help build relationships and bring meaning to life. And, if that’s not awesome enough, altruistic actions can also have health benefits! Though the spirit of altruism is helping others, it has been shown that altruistic actions have an impact both on others and the person doing altruistic things.

Here are some of the health and wellness benefits of altruism:

  • Increases satisfaction and self-esteem

On a psychological level, doing things for other people through service and volunteering has been shown to be associated with greater positive feelings, well-being, and overall satisfaction. In a study by Sawyer and colleagues, most students surveyed who volunteered for a peer education program found it a valuable activity, and nearly half of those surveyed reported increased self-esteem as a result of participating in the program.

 

  • Deepens knowledge

Studies of peer education – or programs where a group is taught how to offer education and support to those in similar situations (ex: college students who are trained to provide health education to other students) – show a wide array of benefits to both the educators themselves, and the persons they are educating. In one study, peer educators were found to have increased their own health and wellness knowledge, with 43% adopting healthier behaviors themselves. Interestingly, the same study also found that some (20%) students participating in peer education programs also changed their career direction as a result of participating in the program.

 

  • Enhances cultural acuity

By being of service to others and advocating for their needs, activities like peer support and volunteerism can help build awareness and perspective. In the study by Sawyer et al, 20% of those participating in peer education programs were more open to students’ behaviors and opinions. Altruistic activities can challenge one to think about issues that another person or group is facing, and increase empathy as a result –important components of cultural wellness.

 

  • Acts as a powerful motivator for individual and population-level behavior change

Mind experiment: pick a health behavior –anything from vaccination, to screening, or smoking cessation. Now think about the following questions: do you want to do this behavior for yourself? How about committing to the health behavior for the benefit of others (partners, family, friends, community members)?

For many behaviors, the desire to perform or commit to a given behavior can be based on a mix of personal versus interpersonal motivations. In a personal example, I recently thought about hand-washing in my house. Don’t get me wrong: I definitely appreciate the importance of hand washing! But, when I thought about it, the desire to wash my hands to keep my partner healthy was as much, or possibly more, of a motivator for me than me washing my hands for my own health’s sake. In yet another example, with behaviors like getting the flu shot each year, it can often be very powerful to consider the benefits both for oneself (i.e., you are less likely to get the flu), and to others (i.e., it reduces flu transmission to the population).  All in all, altruistic reasons for adopting healthy behaviors can be extremely powerful – sometimes more so than the reasons you have for adopting change just to help yourself.

 

Getting involved

 Interested in getting involved in service and volunteering programs on the UNC campus? There are some fantastic service opportunities through the Carolina Center for Public Service, one of Student Wellness’ peer groups, or Student Wellness’ interpersonal violence prevention trainings. Be sure to check out our recent Healthy Heels blog post on being a more conscious volunteer.

It’s important to note that the health benefits of altruistic actions are not limited to formal service and volunteering opportunities. Every day, smaller actions that consider other people’s needs and feelings or help others can also have a powerful impact for oneself and for campus culture.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Club Sports and Intramurals: A great way to get some exercise and become involved!

This blog post was originally published on December 9, 2014.

With the end of the semester come finals, and often, lots of stress. But the good news is at the end of the week you are done (congratulations)! Whether you finish strong or limp across the finish line, the semester is over and you cannot change the past. What you can do is enjoy your time off, get some rest, and look to the future and a fresh start in January. And if I may, I would like to make a recommendation for the spring semester: do something new and something that will help you with all that stress that school can bring. Become part of some sort of extracurricular physical activity, preferably one that gets your heart rate up.

Photo: Going up for the frisbee in the fog by Nathan Rupert, Flickr Creative Commons.
Photo: Going up for the frisbee in the fog by Nathan Rupert, Flickr Creative Commons.

Now before you say, “I don’t have time for exercise,” or “but I don’t like to exercise,” stop. One, you do have time for a little exercise, but often you will not do it unless you set aside a time for it. If you continually say, “I will exercise when I have free time,” you will always find something else you could be doing. Additionally, if you have hours and hours each month to check Facebook, tweet, Instagram, watch movies, online shop, play video games, or any other things that your normal day entails, then you likely have time for some exercise. Second, exercise will help all the other parts of your life as well. So many studies show that exercise not only improved physical health, but mental health as well including stress and depression. And if you don’t like to exercise, fear not! There are many options for exercising that don’t feel like a chore, including many club sports and intramural activities.

For me, physical activity means getting into the Carolina North Forest for runs, and joining road bike group rides in Chapel Hill. In addition to this, last year I joined the UNC Cycling Team, which includes a wide variety of individuals who have all different ability levels and who enjoy all different types of biking. Maybe this is something you would like to try, but if not, there are so many opportunities to participate in club sports, and intramural activities here at UNC. These include: basketball, soccer, tennis, ultimate Frisbee, football, rugby, and so many more. These are great opportunities to meet people, create social networks, and get exercise at the same time. These also can be really helpful for motivation on those days when you would rather just curl up in bed, but you know that getting some exercise would be good for you and you would enjoy doing it once you got out there. Not everyone is self-motivated, however, how or why you get out there is not the important thing, but rather that you get out there.

Olympian Tours Colorado Trip (by Jed Hinkley)
Olympian Tours Colorado Trip (by Jed Hinkley)

So, if you’ve wanted to become involved with some sort of sport or activity, there’s no time like the present. This is the perfect time and there are so many options to choose from. After all, college is about trying new things and meeting new people. It is also about becoming immersed in the culture and involved with the school. What better way to do that then with a bunch of other students, faculty, and staff that like doing the same things that you do. Your heart, your head, and your grades will be better for it.

Media Literacy III: White-Washing, Misrepresentation, and Implicit Bias

In case you missed all the hoopla about the movie Aloha (like here, here, here, and here), don’t worry – the 3rd blog post of the Media Literacy Series explains the lack of people of color we see on the big screen.

The case with Aloha? They made a super odd decision to cast the blonde-haired, white-skinned Emma Stone as Hawaiian, Chinese, mixed heritage Allison Ng.

Aloha.jpg
Image courtesy of http://www.teasers-trailers.com

Here’s what’s up.

This is a pretty classic case of Hollywood white-washing and misrepresenting other cultures, races, and ethnic groups. When we look at all forms of media, the television and movie industry has a particularly bad habit of having overwhelmingly white casts, even if the characters’ whiteness does not add to the characterizations or plotlines. In fact, a lot of characters on television could be portrayed by people of color, but that just does not happen. Instead, you get white people playing white people or passing as light-skinned racial and ethnic groups. People of color get stuck with non-series regular roles, the sidekick/best friend/less significant roles, or roles that play off stereotypes.

LoneRanger
Image courtesy of http://www.ramascreen.com

And this happens all the time.

These patterns are well-established. For example, African men are portrayed as inherently violent, and Indians are portrayed as nerdy or overly sexual. People of color are generally misrepresented or invisibilized in movies.

Moment of Reflection: If this is what we see all of the time, do you think this could affect how we view students of color at UNC? How could this impact the way students of color view themselves?

Why don’t directors cast people of color?

People are less likely to go see a film or watch a television series about a Person of Color protagonist. And directors fear this. They want to capitalize on the fact that audiences are drawn to productions that have the face of a (famous) white person. Even Jenji Kohan took advantage of this, and I think she did it brilliantly!

And these rules are written and institutionalized. A 2011 licensing agreement between Sony and Marvel, which share the rights to the Spider-Man character, lists a series of traits to which Peter Parker must legally conform. Despite the fact that Spider-Man is totally made up and can literally be ANYONE…this character is legally restricted to being a white, straight male.

Moment of Reflection: Would you have tuned in for the 1st season of Orange is the New Black if this was the promotional poster?

OITNBpromoposter
Image courtesy of from s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

Why does this happen?

There’s this thing called reciprocal determinism which basically means that there is a dual relationship between us and our environment, in that we affect the environment that in turn affects us. So, the media shows us what they think we want to see, and by spending our money and time on their shows, we in turn tell the media what we want to see. The media reflects and reinforces societal and institutional patterns of injustice. Mostly, this act is implicit. We don’t go around explicitly stating that we love seeing white people on TV (at least, I hope not!). We are fed messages daily about how we live in a white normative and white ideal society, and many us don’t realize that or choose to ignore it! This can lead to implicit bias:

“Most of us have implicit bias that can impact our behavior and understanding. Although most of us are completely unaware of its influence on our subconscious, these biases affect how we perceive, interpret, and understand others’ actions. Because these attitudes, unrecognized on the conscious level but powerful at the subconscious level, individual and institutional discrimination can occur even in the absence of blatant prejudice, ill will, or animus.”

– John A. Powell, “Postracialism or Targeted Universalism?” Clearinghouse Review Journal of Poverty Law and Policy, May-June 2010.

Moment of Reflection: How do you see your own implicit bias playing a role on UNC’s campus or within your relationships?

whitemale
Image courtesy of memegenerator.net

Let’s revisit that phrase “unrecognized on the conscious level but powerful at the subconscious level.” We have to work against this process and deconstruct the way we think so that the messages can be recognized on the conscious level, like when we see instances of white-washing and misrepresentation – whether it’s on magazine covers, billboards, advertisements, TV, movies, etc.

What should we do about all of this?

Public Outrage!! I’m kidding, to an extent. We all do need to critically engage with media and actively recognize moments of social injustice. We also need to continue these public conversations, whether it’s through blogs, public forums, petitions, you name it! People notice when we do this. In fact, the director of Aloha issued an apology (though it’s more of an excuse/justification in my opinion…). Networks are also adding more shows with strong roles for people of color like Blackish, Fresh off the Boat, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, Jane the Virgin, and Empire. Hashtag trends like #OscarsSoWhite got the attention of people in leadership and now we’re going to be seeing some real awesome changes around diversity in Hollywood because of the Academy’s effort to double the number of women and people of color by 2020!

And of course, there’s this:

starwars
Image courtesy of lh3.googleusercontent.com

The more we can show the world that we notice, CARE, and can articulate WHY all of this matters, we can reshape conversations about race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. and take steps to creating lasting change.

 

Niranjani Radhakrishnan received her BSPH from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC Chapel Hill in 2013. She is currently a Program Assistant for Health Promotion and Prevention Initiatives at Student Wellness. She is also in graduate school at UNC Chapel Hill pursuing two masters degrees: Health Behavior and City and Regional Planning with an emphasis in environmental justice, health equity, and spatial analysis using GIS.

Meet Rebecca Gibson from the Equal Opportunity Compliance Office

This is Rebecca Gibson, the Report & Response Coordinator at UNC. She works in the Equal Opportunity Compliance Office, where she provides support and resources for students who have experienced sexual or interpersonal violence, stalking, and other forms of discrimination and harassment. She is your go-to person in case you are in need of the services she provides. I chatted with Rebecca to get a better idea of who she is and what she does.

Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Gibson.
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Gibson.

Kelli Raker (KR): Tell me about your background. What led you to this position?
Rebecca Gibson (RG):
I’m a social worker by training and previously worked at the Durham Crisis Response Center managing the sexual assault program. I’ve consistently been drawn to this field because of the greater social influences and the resiliency that survivors exhibit even after great trauma has happened to them. I have always aspired to work in higher education. When this opportunity became available at UNC-Chapel Hill to do the work that I’m passionate about, it was just too good to pass up.

KR: What happens in your first meeting with a student who has experienced violence?
RG:
In our first meeting, I will explain my role in the process and available resources. I thank them for contacting me and try to assess any immediate safety concerns or medical needs. We’ll discuss community and campus-based confidential resources, interim protective measures, and reporting options, including speaking to law enforcement and making a formal report to the University.

I will explain that I am a private resource, which means that I will share information only as needed with the Title IX compliance coordinator, relevant staff in the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (EOC), and other parties on campus who have a need to know depending on the conduct and where it happened. I will discuss immediate safety concerns and the option to go to the hospital to receive medical care. If the student discloses or alludes to some form of sexual violence, I will explain the option to receive a sexual assault forensic exam at UNC Hospitals or Campus Health Services and talk a bit about the role of the community advocate in providing hospital accompaniment if they choose to receive the exam. I will also provide information about confidential resources such as Cassidy Johnson, gender violence services coordinator, in the event the student would like to talk in a confidential space before talking with me.

It’s truly up to the student in this meeting to decide how much he or she wants to tell me about the violence itself. There are no obligations to provide details. That being said, my ability to help address safety concerns or discuss protective measures will be limited if the student doesn’t want to tell me anything. We’ll talk together about any concerns with academics or housing and if there is a possibility the aggressor will contact the student in the near future.

KR: What about when you meet with someone who may have harmed, harassed, or discriminated against another person?
RG: My role at Carolina is a neutral one. I’m a point of contact for those involved to answer questions, clarify steps, and connect to resources. In meeting with the individual who is responding to allegations of misconduct, I will provide appropriate resources and support just as I would make referrals and connections for a student who reported experiencing these types of conduct. I will explain what they can expect throughout the University’s investigation process, discuss next steps, and address questions they may have. There are times I’m simply not able to answer a question due to student privacy rights, relevant laws, or safety concerns. If there are questions or concerns either party has that I’m not able to answer or address, my job is to find the person who can provide the information.

KR: Why should someone come to talk to you?
RG:
I can facilitate interim protective measures such as academic accommodations or changes to housing, give perspective on reporting options, and connect individuals to resources both at the University and in the community. Ew Quimbaya-Winship also provides this assistance.

For someone who wants the University to pursue a formal investigation of an alleged policy violation, I’m the first point of contact to get that process moving.

For someone who isn’t sure about how they want to proceed, I’m able to talk through what the reporting process would look like and connect that person to others who can support them regardless of the decision to report. The University will make every effort to respect the individual’s decision about how to proceed.

KR: What do you wish all students knew about your office?
RG: I want students to know that my office is a welcoming space and resource for the entire Carolina community. My team is made up of smart, compassionate people who are working hard to make this campus safe and equitable.

I also want folks to know that in addition to addressing sexual violence, my office is also the place to go if you’re experiencing harassment or discrimination based on any protected status: age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and veteran status.

KR: Well, there you have it. Thanks, Rebecca! Always remember there are resources on campus to help you if you face any form of discrimination or harassment!

 

Kelli Raker is the Coordinator for Violence Prevention Programs at UNC Student Wellness. Kelli has a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from The College of William and Mary in Women’s Studies. Kelli believes we can prevent sexual violence, interpersonal violence, stalking, harassment, and discrimination by changing systems of oppression, empowering bystanders, supporting survivors, and holding individuals accountable for their problematic behavior.

Health Through Heritage

It’s February, and already you’re tired of the dining hall (mostly just walking through the cold to get there). Luckily, the first week of February provides some foodspiration in the form of African Heritage and Health Week.

Image courtesy of oldwayspt.org
Image courtesy of oldwayspt.org

African Heritage and Health Week (Feb. 1 – 7) celebrates the foods, flavors, and healthy cooking techniques that were key to the wellbeing of ancestors from African diaspora cultures in Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and the American South, each with distinct local foods and cooking styles.

Food and nutrition nonprofit, Oldways created the celebration, with its overall mission to guide people to good health through heritage, using practical and positive programs grounded in science and tradition. The basic premise of African Heritage and Health Week is to bring people together to support one another in healthy eating practices. A fringe benefit: developing multicultural sensitivity and experience.

African Heritage and Health Week also purposely coincides with the beginning of Black History Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, are more prevalent in African American communities.With traditional diets waning in popularity, this week is a way to link African American heritage to historically healthy eating and lifestyle practices.

So what makes these diets so healthy? The African Heritage Diet Pyramid shows a framework for these traditional ingredients.

The diet is based on fresh, natural plant foods: fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens (chard, collards, kale, spinach, turnip, greens), tubers (yams, sweet potatoes, plantains), beans and nuts, rice and whole grains, healthy oils, and homemade sauces of herbs and spices. These are the core group to shop for. There is minimal consumption of eggs, poultry, other meats, and sweets. (Hey, saving some money!)

There is a great variety of high-nutrient foods, and those naturally low in processed sugar and unhealthy fats.

So, here’s how you celebrate African Heritage and Health Week: 

COOK: Plates of Expression dishes and foods from all four distinct regions of African heritage (click on the food for the recipe!)

 

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

LEARN: Taste of Heritage Cooking Classeshands-on experience showing people how to eat and cook with traditional ingredients, reconnecting participants with the way of eating and living that promoted the health of African American ancestors everywhere.

 

DINE: African Heritage Dine Around Townchallenge yourself to experience something new (or old!) – alphabetical index, by state, of cultural restaurants near you that offer widest variety of nutritious, plant-based dishes, preparing all the traditional ingredients and dishes in delicious new ways.

PERSONAL PICK:
For a quick guide, check out this African Heritage Diet 101 brochure and dive deeper into African Heritage and Health Week.CALLING ALL PANTHERS FANS! ITS SUPER BOWL WEEK. , “It wasn’t going to be instant grits. It was going to be like long, slow-cooked collard greens. I think those collard greens are brewing right now. You can smell them from 100 miles away.” Imagine Cam throwing this Collard Greens recipe to you. Eat them at your Super Bowl party, or save them for your Monday lunch – clearly a win-win situation.

Angelica Arnold is the Program Assistant for Health and Wellness at Student Wellness. She is a first year Master of Public Administration candidate at the UNC School of Government. Her focus is on state, local, and nonprofit programs for nutrition education and walkable communities. She also a volunteer instructor for UNC Fitness Breaks and a youth basketball coach.

What happens if we don’t do anything?

This blog was written by Jessica Smith-Ninaber, a social media intern with One Act, to address what happens when we do not intervene in situations that may lead to violence.

Let’s paint a picture. You’re at a party, the music is loud, there’s no furniture, it’s so crowded, and you look across the room and see a man with a woman “all up in her face”. She looks cordial at first, “I think I’m good here”, he doesn’t want to hear it, he moves closer to her and begins to try and dance with her, “Sorry, I have a boyfriend”, she says. Her face begins to look more and more uncomfortable as you witness the man getting closer and closer.

Thoughts run fast through your head:

  • She must know him. Why else would he be all up in her face?
  • He’s just drunk and probably messing around. He doesn’t know what he’s doing…I hope.
  • Does she need help?
  • Who, me? No, I couldn’t, it’s none of my business.
  • I should go help her, but is it safe?

And if you’re feeling extra brave that night…

  • I am going to help her!

This kind of scenario happens weekly for many people on our college campus. We go to a party, we witness something that doesn’t seem quite right, two people going upstairs, one person’s drunk and the other is sober, and so often we just stand there, unable to think properly, unable to act, and unable to intervene.

We know the positives of intervening, we know what happens when we muster up the courage to approach someone and diffuse the potentially dangerous situation, we know the good that can come out of it, but have we ever stopped to think about what might happen if we don’t intervene?

blog - jess pic 2
Image courtesy of ExplorePortal on Twitter

It’s so easy to think the small acts we do don’t make a difference. It’s so much easier to not take responsibility and think that someone else will step up and intervene. It’s so much easier to just ignore the situation.

And yet, while that may all seem so easy and we continue about our days, our community is tolerating violence. Members of our community are becoming victims of violence. While it may be easier to not think about the woman at the party in that uncomfortable situation, on the inside she is screaming, “someone help me!”

If we don’t intervene, if we sit by passively, violence will most likely occur, sexual assault will most likely happen. We hear the statistic all the time, 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their time at UNC, so how can we standby and do nothing? If you don’t say something, if you don’t intervene, if you think someone else will, then you are letting violence happen on your watch, all in the name of “it’s none of my business”. It is our responsibility as active bystanders to be just that, active bystander. It is also our responsibility as members of our Carolina community to promote behavior that we wish to become the norm; to stop behavior that threatens our safety; to promote an alternative Carolina Way that is committed to promoting health and safety on our campus.

blog - jess pic
Image courtesy of Penn State on Flickr 

So the next time you see someone in an uncomfortable situation at a party, run up to them and with all the vibrancy you can muster say, “Hey, weren’t you in my class?!” It’s just an out if someone needs it. Diffuse the awkward and uncomfortable situation, and get between the person and the potential perpetrator. Do something. Do your One Act. Create a new Carolina Way and together, let’s put an end to violence at UNC.

If you want to contribute to creating a new culture at Carolina you can start by signing up for One Act training here.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: What’re YOU Gonna be for Halloween? You Might Think Twice After Reading This…

Halloween should be a time for carefree fun and expression, but some common costumes perpetuate racial and ethnic stereotypes. And that’s not good for our Cultural Wellness.

Wait…WHA–? Cultural wellness…what in the world?

At Student Wellness, we believe wellness has multiple dimensions, and one of those dimensions is Cultural Wellness, which involves understanding diverse backgrounds while creating safe, inclusive spaces for all to feel welcome. Research shows that marginalized populations experience higher rates of stress and stress-related health problems, even when we control for factors like socio-economic status and education level. Much of this stress can be linked to repeated, often everyday, experiences of discrimination or bias, like seeing one’s group made fun of in a costume.

crowd on franklin street during Halloween
“crowd on franklin street.” Selena N. B. H. Flickr Creative Commons.

Ok, so what does this have to do with Halloween?

The DTH recently touched on this in an article about costume racism. Halloween costumes that promote racial and ethnic stereotypes make fun of people who are already marginalized. For example, Native Americans make up 2% of the incoming class of UNC first years, and their numbers have declined 33% over the last 4 years at UNC, and yet Native American costumes are an ever-popular choice for Halloween in Chapel Hill. But sporting that “Sexy Pocahontas” costume trivializes the many rich and varied cultural traditions of Native Americans, not to mention the centuries of forced migration and genocide they have endured. Check out this video made by Native students at UNC about their experience. 

But, it’s HALLOWEEN! It’s all just a joke…aren’t people being TOO sensitive?

It can be very frustrating to always feel in fear of offending someone, especially when it was not intended. And there aren’t hard and fast rules; what offends one person may seem harmless to another. But just because someone has good intentions does not automatically make the impact harmless. Recently, a good friend of mine made a passing comment about my body shape that upset me. I confronted her about it after it had been on my mind all day. She could have blown me off and said I was being “too sensitive.” And then we would have fought and I would have felt even worse, and maybe I would have avoided her after that. She didn’t do that. Instead, she validated my feelings, and she apologized for saying what she said. I knew she never meant to hurt me. But what she said still hurt. She owned it and she apologized and agreed not to make the comment again. And VOILÀ! We are back to hanging out and watching bad TV together.

word "Empathy" in stonework on a bench
“Empathy.” Glenda Sims. Flickr Creative Commons.

Regardless of intent, our actions and words impact other people, and recognizing that impact can improve our relationships. Respecting other identities allows people to feel welcomed and heard—just like my friend made me feel when I confronted her. We know that certain Halloween costumes offend marginalized groups. Not meaning any harm, or dressing in these costumes “all in good fun” will not change the impact a costume has on that group. So, why not choose a Halloween costume that speaks to inclusion rather than stereotypes? Find out more about avoiding offensive costumes here and here. And check out some of our multicultural resources on campus to improve your own Cultural Wellness!

Conversation Starts with Listening

by Will McInerney

All too often, we tend to mistake hearing for listening.

Hearing is a physiological process by which sound waves are processed and passed along from our ears to our brains. Listening is a more complicated psychological process by which we comprehend, create meaning, and apply understanding. (2) Listening engages empathy and connection. This process asks us to be introspective and to challenge ourselves. Listening looks like putting your phone away during a conversation. Listening means you are not formulating a rebuttal or counterpoint while the other is talking, rather you are thinking deeply about what they are saying and taking time to process the information.

Listen
“Listen” by Ky. Flikr Creative Commons.

As a community we need to deepen our commitment to whole-heartedly listening to survivors and to the professionals who work and advocate on these issues.

October is Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM). During this month (as well as every other month) it is important that we work to hone our listening skills, foster conversations, and catalyze action.

Relationship violence takes many forms (including but not limited to physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, economic, and verbal) and affects a significant percentage of college-aged individuals. (1) RVAM is a time of year when we seek to shine light on this issue and work to create a safer, more accountable, and inclusive campus for all faculty, staff, and students.

One way we can do this is by having more open and honest conversations. Through conversation, we seek to elicit action, foster change, and create impact. But when having conversations it’s also important that we take special note to truly listen, especially to those directly affected.

Every year during RVAM, Project Dinah hosts a Speak Out event. During this event, members of the Carolina community read anonymous posting detailing the experiences of survivors. These accounts, collected and archived on the site http://speakoutunc.blogspot.com, are a prime example of the stories we should be listening to, learning from, and considering when discussing relationship violence on our campus. (3)

On October 22nd, a collection of UNC organizations will be hosting a Coffee and Conversation event surrounding Relationship Violence in the Anne Queen Lounge of the Campus Y from 5 to 6:30pm.

A panel of professionals from Student Wellness, Equal Opportunity & Compliance Office, Carolina Women’s Center, Compass Center for Women and Children, and the Dean of Students Office will speak and help facilitate group discussions. This is an opportunity for us to engage, to speak, and to challenge our community and ourselves to take tangible steps to reduce violence and listen to survivors.

For more information you can check out the Facebook event page HERE.

RVAM is a month for introspection, for challenging conversations, and for action. Let’s use this opportunity to listen to survivors and engage in constructive dialogue. Join the conversation and let your voice be heard.

If you would like to learn more about active listening and supporting survivors, you can also check out the free online Haven program provided by Student Wellness by clicking HERE.

Check out the RVAM schedule below and click HERE for more UNC RVAM events.

List of events for RVAM 

Sources

  1. http://www.loveisrespect.org/pdf/Dating_Abuse_Statistics.pdf
  2. http://study.com/academy/lesson/hearing-vs-listening-importance-of-listening-skills-for-speakers.html
  3. http://speakoutunc.blogspot.com/
  4. http://rvam.web.unc.edu/rvam-event-schedule/

 

Will McInerney has worked with the campus wide initiative to increase men’s involvement in gender equity efforts and violence prevention since its inception. He partners with students, faculty, and staff to promote positive, inclusive, and non-violent masculinities.

Will is also a writer, performer, and consultant specializing in Middle East and North Africa-based conflict zones. His work has been featured on National Public Radio, Al Jazeera, American Public Media, and recently at the International Storytelling Center. Will earned his Bachelor of Arts in Peace, War, and Defense from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Apply to be a Delta Advocate for your Sorority Chapter!

Through peer education, campus outreach, and survivor support, the Delta Advocates program unifies the fraternity and sorority community in preventing sexual and interpersonal violence and providing an educated and empathetic response to survivors of violence.
For the 2016 cohort, the Delta Advocate Leadership Team invites women and female-identified individuals in women’s or co-ed fraternities and sororities under Panhellenic Council, Greek Alliance Council, and National Pan-Hellenic Council to apply. Up to two members of each organization under these councils may be selected to participate as Delta Advocates.

All applicants for the Delta Advocates program are required to submit an application and two recommendations by 10/21 at noon. Applications can be located under the forms tab on the Delta Advocate page: https://studentlife.unc.edu/organization/delta_advocates