Letter to the Editor

As student leaders at Xavier, we read Meredith Beamer’s letter to the Editor in last week’s Newswire with a mix of excitement, encouragement and new awareness.

The excitement came from reading the words of a fellow Xavier student who shares our passion for creating a safer campus community. We were encouraged to know that others agree that now is the time to become educated on these issues and support each other. We also came to the awareness that we must be tireless in our efforts to keep our student body informed of new initiatives already underway to implement bystander engagement at Xavier.

In an attempt to do just that, we’re writing to help spread the word that Xavier has kicked off a brand new peer education group whose work is grounded in bystander engagement practices. This group is called Student Wellness Advocacy Group (SWAG), and here’s what you need to know:

In August 2014, Xavier implemented a peer education  program with the support of Women of Excellence, the Multicultural, Gender, and Women’s Center, Title IX and the Student Integrity offices. Graduate Coordinator Megan Bowling transformed the program into SWAG.

SWAG’s goal is to facilitate prevention education programming on the critical wellness issues of sexual health, interpersonal relationships, gender identity and alcohol and/or drug use utilizing a bystander intervention model.
During the Fall 2014 semester, SWAG hired eight undergraduate students to become certified peer educators through the BACCHUS Network, a national organization focused on college health and safety.

In fact, the Newswire ran an article in the Sep. 11 issue entitled “Xavier introduces SWAG program.” The article described SWAG as a “group to specifically do peer education around wellness,” and urged students to apply for peer educator positions. After the article ran, SWAG spent the remainder of the semester training, but they are now programming around campus.

For example, SWAG is partnering with Student Government Association (SGA) during Leadership Week on campus to present “Live the Commitment: Spring into Bystander Intervention” at 5 p.m. on Feb. 26 in Kennedy Auditorium.

They have also partnered with the Center for International Education for a cross-cultural dating workshop and will present to all student athletes at a Life Skills event.

Lastly, SWAG also has an ongoing partnership with Residence Life to offer programming to students in the residence halls. SWAG is ready and eager to share highly effective and engaging bystander engagement strategies to students, clubs and organizations across campus.

In addition to SWAG, another initiative on campus is SGA’s Live the Commitment Campaign launched by the SGA executives earlier this year.

Live the Commitment gave students an opportunity to commit themselves to one of four issues currently facing our campus: sexual assault prevention, suicide prevention, anti-cyber-bullying and keeping Xavier safe through trainings on active shooters and emergency situations.

The idea of the campaign was for students to commit themselves to one of these four issues in order to be engaged with offices and programs that address their chosen issue. With roughly 400 students committing themselves to these issues, a large portion of them chose sexual assault prevention.

Xavier also is connected with the national It’s On Us campaign driven by the White House. Be on the lookout for Xavier’s own PSA to be launched before the end of the month.

We have been working tirelessly to bring these issues to light on campus and have been advocating for SWAG and Live the Commitment to many groups, both administrative and student-led.

If you share a passion for any of this work contact Megan at bowlingm3@xavier.edu for more information on SWAG or to schedule a bystander program. Also, please take the time to sign the student commitment at http://www.xavier.edu/student-involvement/sga/Student-Commitment.cfm.
-Colleen Reynolds, Student Body President, and Megan Bowling, Graduate Coordinator