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UNC on-campus resources promote accessibility, community for students


The Carolina Latinx Center, one of the identity-based resources on UNC's campus, is pictured on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022.

For new students, navigating the resources available at UNC can be an overwhelming experience.

The Daily Tar Heel has collected perspectives from members of some organizations and centers on campus to serve as an introduction to the many resources available.

When students in African, African American, Diaspora Studies 254: African Americans in North Carolina came to the Sonja Haynes Stone Center Library for help on an assignment, Gregg Moore, the library's manager, first asked them about their interests.

In the Stone Center Library, students can turn a possibly overwhelming assignment into a detailed and personalized project as library staff work with students, in particular undergraduates, to fine-tune their research based on what they’re passionate about, Moore said.

“What makes our library unique is the focus on customer service," he said. "We really tried to make libraries (and) resources accessible to first-years.”

Another resource for new students is the International Student and Scholar Services, which provides resources including help with financial support documents, changing immigration status and entering the United States.

The UNC-Chapel Hill LGBTQ Center seeks to create an inclusive environment based on its values of intentional inclusion, intersectional social justice, accountability and consent, and environmental responsibility, according to its website.

The LGBTQ Center focuses resources on support and advocacy, community building and educational programs, and offers forms to report harassment or request an appointment or conversation with center staff members.

A student-led organization, UNC Active Minds, also seeks to build community by increasing awareness and opening conversations about mental health. 

“Most of our events this past year revolved around community building, so that's basically the overall goal of Active Minds, is to build this community where it's okay and safe to talk about mental health,” Natalie Tuinstra, a senior who leads the UNC chapter of Active Minds, said.

UNC Active Minds has hosted a variety of casual conversations in the past year focusing on topics like burnout and body image. But, in the upcoming academic year, UNC Active Minds will focus on not just community engagement, but also educational opportunities and training for students, Tuinstra said. 

She said it can be difficult to have conversations about mental health, but that Active Minds created a toolkit to teach people how to validate others’ emotions, appreciate them reaching out and refer them to professionals.

“We trained everyone in the chapter on this toolkit, and we're hoping to implement it and train others in, not only the university but also local high schools, and the community,” she said. 

UNC provides mental health support through Counseling and Psychological Services, which offers services such as initial mental health assessments, various forms of therapy and the Multicultural Health Program, which seeks to provide culturally responsive treatment. 

Students can request accommodations from Accessibility Resources and Service in person or on their website. ARS provides accommodations for students with disabilities or medical conditions, which cover situations in academic, residence, dining and campus activity settings. 

The Carolina Latinx Center serves as a community hub for Latino students on campus, Marleny Nolasco, a senior at UNC and a student ambassador at the center, said. 

In La Sala, which translates to "the living room," Nolasco said that students often come in and do work, and organizations such as Mi Pueblo hold events. 

Nolasco helped plan the first in-person version of La Conferencia, an event where Latino professionals spoke about their work.

Not only did this build connections between professionals and UNC students, she said, but it allowed students to meet other students from UNC Wilmington.

“They also have a Latinx center, and that's how they were able to fund their trip to come here,” she said. “So it was cool to collaborate, to just meet other Latinx friends from other schools and to see them enjoy the experience of La Conferencia.”

She said the programs and services the Latinx Center has helps it to feel like a safe space.

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“It's kind of hard to find your people or a good space where you can feel comfortable on this big campus,” she said. “And our directors have definitely made CLC a place that feels like home that I can feel comfortable in."