Last Monday President Peterson announced the establishment of the new Center for Campus Community Health and Wellbeing.
The director of Wellness Center will be charged with overseeing Stamps Health Services, the Campus Recreation Center (CRC) and Health Promotion, which will be moved to under the center, as well as new services and programs including a full-time victim advocate for survivors of sexual assault.
“What we would really love to find is someone with community health background. With someone who has a public or community health background, they’re used to serving people in different areas and [the center] is going to be combining physical wellness, emotional wellness, mental health wellness, all of those aspects,” said Lynn Durham, Assistant Vice President and Chief of Staff to the President
The announcement comes after two separate task forces were launched last spring and summer by President G.P. “Bud” Peterson dealing with mental health and sexual violence.
“The recommendation to create a new Center for Wellness is going to benefit students in a huge way because it will be a centralized location where any mental emotional, physical or spiritual area of wellness can be addressed,” said Dillon Roseen, Undergraduate Student Body President.
One of the biggest organizational changes is the relocation of the CRC to Campus Service to fall under the Wellness Center.“[The CRC] serves the entire community and it’s physical wellness which we think is a huge part of a student’s mental and physical wellbeing,” Durham said.
Another major change is the addition of the full-time victim advocate to the Center. The victim advocate follows the survivor along the journey whether it is seeking assistance from the police, counseling center, or Office of Student Integrity.
“We think that because there’s so much more knowledge about it that more survivors will come forward,” Durham said. “With that, we don’t currently have those resources to serve all the survivors and that’s why we’re immediately hiring a victim advocate because we feel like we need to immediately put someone in place to help.”
All victim advocacy up until this point has been provided by the Women Resource Center (WRC). They will remain relevant to the advocacy and educational aspect of sexual violence prevention; however, under the new initiative the WRC would direct sexual assault survivors to the new full time victim advocate in Health Promotion. Currently the WRC and Health Promotion both serve as part of VOICE, Georgia Tech’s sexual violence prevention and response initiative.
The Counseling Center will not fall under the new center but instead remain in Student Affairs.
“The initial thoughts were that the Center for Community Health and Wellbeing is focused on serving the entire campus community,” Durham said. “The counseling center is for students and to maintain that within Student Affairs made sense. This doesn’t mean it’s set in stone forever, but for now we feel that it is suited to stay in Student Affairs and then they will work collaboratively with the new Center director.”
Because of the magnitude of the changes, Durham expects there to be an adjustment period while the Center transitions into its new role.
“You’re bringing people who have been in different structures together and so I can’t say it will be without any issues at all,” Durham said. “But now I think [with] everything I’ve heard, there’s a lot of excitement.”
According to Durham, the Center will serve as a “one-stop-shop” where students can get information about campus services related to wellness. The resources on campus, Durham says, are dispersed across many departments and so combining many of them under wellness will provide a starting point for students looking for help.
Students should be able contribute their thoughts on what the Wellness Center should look like according to Durham.
“Our hope is the director would be very much willing to reach out and collaborate with students and get [their] feedback on how [they] see this serving the best way to serve students,” Durham said.
More details about the Center should follow the arrival of the director on campus this April.