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The Daily Tar Heel

Roundup of trainings around campus: Sept. 18, 2014

CLARIFICATION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story misquoted senior Taylor Swankie in the segment about Rethink: Psychiatric Illness. Swankie said her personal initial goals for the organization were to have a few training sessions and to alert the community that Rethink exists. The story has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

HAVEN

Helping Advocates for Violence Ending Now, or HAVEN, is a campus organization that educates students on sexual and interpersonal violence.  

The group works to train members of the Chapel Hill community to support victims of sexual or interpersonal violence, according to its web site.

Often people who have suffered from these acts feel as though they do not have anyone to talk to, so HAVEN serves to eliminate this problem. 

HAVEN offers 3-hour training for students, faculty and staff. They also offer refresher courses for those who have previously been educated to help prevent sexual violence but want to stay updated.

The goal of the training is to teach members to listen actively, respond with empathy and link victims to resources available on campus that could help them. 

Junior Julia Stroup, who did the training in fall 2013, said the program taught her concrete skills to help her friends.

“I think the most important part of HAVEN for me was learning practical ways to be able to support my friends and those around me who are experiencing serious things,” she said. “You learn how to be a good active listener and connect survivors with different resources on campus.”

“HAVEN was my first step in the door on these issues,” said Stroup, who has since become a One Act Peer Educator and violence prevention intern for Student Wellness.

One Act

One Act is an on-campus organization that focuses on educating students on how to prevent interpersonal violence in social situations

The organization serves as skill training to intervene when students see the potential for interpersonal violence to occur. ACT is also an acronym for “asking for help, creating a distraction or talking directly.” 

The overall goal of One Act is to make the UNC community and safer place for all of its residents and members. 

In 2010, UNC adopted a bystander approach to its training, said Katrina Hauprich, a peer educator.

“This bystander strategy approaches students as allies and potential leaders, rather than potential perpetrators or victims, and has been shown to alter social norms and promote pro-social and respectful behavior,” she said. 

One Act is composed of three committees: Peer Education, Events, and Public Relations. As a whole, these three committees raise awareness for the program, conduct training, and arrange events to gather the attention of UNC students. 

In the spring of 2013, One Act added a new program, One Act for Greeks, meant to improve safety in fraternities and sororities.

Hauprich said the accumulation of small acts could lead to a significant reduction of violence on campus.

“We hope that through training, participants will gain the willingness and confidence to take just one action, leading to a reduction in violence on campus,” she said.

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Embody Carolina

Embody Carolina provides students with the tools to assist people suffering from eating disorders. The program began in 2011.

Eating disorders are a complex and dangerous psychological disease that people often do not know how to approach. Friends and peers of those struggling try to help but are not educated on the correct ways to do so. Embody Carolina was created in order to properly teach people how to help those with eating disorders.

Colleen Daly is a UNC graduate and one of the founding members of Embody Carolina. She and her friend Ben Barge were both personally connected to eating disorders, she said, and that inspired them to start the organization.

“The best thing about Embody is that it created a conversation about a prevalent issue that was too often thrown under the rock,” Daly said.

“One of the very important aspects of the Embody Carolina program is that a medical professional is present at every one of the meetings.”

This is to ensure the medical well-being of participants who might have an eating disorder.

Daly added that working with Embody Carolina has been rewarding for her to know the impact that she has made on peoples lives.

“I got a letter from someone that I had used the Embody training on, and she said that had helped save her life,” Daly said.

Rethink: Psychiatric Illness

Rethink: Psychiatric Illness is a student-run organization on campus hoping to open up a discussion about mental illness. It started as a living-learning community in the fall of 2011 and became a Campus Y committee in April of 2012. 

Its aim is to make UNC a safe place for students to share their experiences regarding mental illness. The group offers 4-hour sensitization trainings that review the basics of mental health and hope to destigmatize mental illness. The goals of the training are to make people feel encouraged and open to have a conversation regarding mental health.

Taylor Swankie, a senior majoring in health policy and management and one of the founding members of the organization, has been with Rethink since it started in fall of 2011 and has since then personally seen the organization thrive. 

“Carolina students are very caring and compassionate,” Swankie said. “They want to support this safe place to discuss mental illness so we want to give them the tools to do that.” 

Swankie said one of the initial goals of the organization was to have a few training sessions and to alert the community that Rethink exists.

 “I never expected that there would be this much interest from students to talk about mental illness. I have been very fortunate in seeing how much the culture and the environment of this campus has changed in respect to mental illnesses.”

Safe Zone

Safe Zone is an organization that serves to train people to act as accepting companions to students with varying sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. 

The organization trains not only students but also faculty and staff to make campus a more inviting place for everyone. 

Safe Zone hopes to provide students with a safe and inviting campus environment, regardless of their sexual or gender backgrounds. 

“The purpose of Safe Zone is to create a network of allies that people can talk to about sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression,” the organization’s web site says.

Safe Zone holds trainings throughout the year, and allies who participate receive a sticker to display in their offices or living spaces.

Adrianne Gibilisco, the administrative support specialist for Safe Zone, said that it helps train faculty as well as students.

“We do special departmental trainings at UNC, as well as at other schools and health organizations, so our reach in creating allies is expanding all the time,” she said.

Gibilisco said the organization began in 2000.

“That was when Marcie Fisher-Borne was hired as the first employee with any LGBT responsibility at UNC-Chapel Hill,” she said. 

The LGBT office opened three years later in 2003 and is now the LGBTQ Center. 

Green Zone

Green Zone provides training for faculty and staff members who want to learn more about the issues and concerns facing veteran or other military students.

Brian Papajcik, assistant dean of students, is highly involved in Green Zone. He said Green Zone trains faculty and staff to help students dealing issues such as transitioning from military culture to higher education culture, transferring credits or understanding the GI Bill. 

Green Zone ultimately aims to create a visible network and culture of care and understanding for military affiliated students. The organization hopes to figure out what the needs of these students are and how to help them. 

“We’re not expected to be experts who can solve every problem that they encounter,” Papajcik said. 

“We are really supposed to be individuals who can lend a sympathetic ear and help veterans and other military students identify and connect with the appropriate resources.”

Papajcik said he hopes in semesters to come they can extend their professional staff and faculty members on campus who want to assist military students. Veteran students often say they do not know who to talk to or who to go to on campus, so Green Zone is hoping to eliminate that.

Green Zone now has over 100 faculty and staff members have been trained. They typically have five training sessions a semester.