All’s Well When It’s Funded Well

All's Well When It's Funded Well

Parker Caldwell

The Green Bikes Program, BACCHUS games nights, Student Self-Care Guides distributed to first-year students, the Leadership Institute, Bring Back the Date and the AlcoholEdu program serve functions with seemingly little in common. However, one finds that each is a component of the “wellness” of the Colgate student body. Each of these programs has received funding from the Wellness Initiative, which according to the Initiative’s mission statement is a “campus-wide commitment to provide education and opportunities for the development of personal wellness.”

The Wellness Initiative was initially conceived by former Dean of the College Adam Weinberg in the summer of 2004 and was facilitated in 2006 by a generous $1 million endowed gift by Jay and Debi Shaw ’76. Currently the program is run by a six-member steering committee, co-chaired by Director of Counseling and Psychological Services Mark Thompson and Adjunct Professor of the Health Sciences and Director of Student Health Services Dr. Merrill Miller.

“[The Initiative is] broader in scope than either the Health Center or Counseling Services,” Thompson said.

The 2007-2008 school year already holds ambitious plans for the fledgling initiative. A new website accompanying the Colgate portal page is expected to debut in November or December. The Wellness portal page will be customized for students depending on their class year, and will provide information and advice regarding topics such as stress, sleep, alcohol, healthy relationships and body image. Since parents are one of the three most common sources of health advice for college students, the Wellness website, which will be publicly available, will help parents better advise their children at Colgate.

Regarding the development of the website, Thompson said that the Wellness Initiative committee was in the process of recruiting students to advise them on what information to display on each class’s portal page.

The Wellness Initiative will also sponsor speakers throughout the year. Last year Denise Grady, writer for the New York Times Health and Medicine Division, among others, were sponsored to speak about health and wellness issues on campus.

Publicity issues are also important for the Initiative this year, as the program continues to establish itself on campus. The Initiative released a poster series and plans to distribute pens, temporary tattoos, T-shirts, water bottles and other giveaways at their weekly tables at the O’Connor Campus Center.

In another attempt to make the Wellness Institute’s message more accessible and emphasized on campus, Dr. Miller hosts a weekly radio program, “What’s Up, Doc?” The program airs Sundays from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and each broadcast addresses a health topic pertinent to the student body. For example, an upcoming show, titled “Let’s Talk Dirty,” will discuss sexual health.

The Initiative’s attention extends far beyond its own pursuits, though.

“We’re tying to direct money to [student organizations,]” Thompson said.

Last year, the Initiative purchased Dance Dance Revolution and Madden ’07 for the monthly BACCHUS game night in the Coop. BACCHUS attempts to facilitate events for the roughly 20 percent of Colgate students that do not drink by providing socialization options that don’t revolve around alcohol consumption.

The Wellness Initiative-funded Leadership Institute devised a plan to increase school spirit. A group from the Institute will create and distribute T-shirts and sponsor other spirit-related events.

“We decided to have a spirit squad created,” senior Will Redmond, who helped develop the spirit plan, said. “[We’re] trying to create more of a Raider Nation.”

With thousands of dollars available each year, expect to see more and more student organizations benefit as a result of the Wellness Initiative. By giving money to student groups, Thompson said, “[We want a] healthier, more energetic, happier place [at Colgate].”

With expansions in the areas of publicity, education and student funding, the Wellness Initiative is looking forward to a more accessible and healthier year in 2007-2008.

“It’s watching out for folks,” Miller said, summing up her view of the Initiative.