Nora Allen and Tyler Craig are among a group of Acadia University interns adding new branches to the Student Success Management Acadia Resource Tree. - Wendy Elliott, www.kingscountynews.ca
For the past three years, sociology interns at Acadia University have looked for new ways to connect their peers to a host of resources they might need to be successful.
The interns use the image of a tree to envision the online resources they collect and update. They are all members of Dr. Heather Kitchin's sociology of addictions class.
According to intern Nora Allen, the aim of the Student Success Management Acadia Resource Tree (SSMART) is to create and enhance a thriving university community with a centralized resource location.
The goal of the campaign this year was to redevelop the online resources available to students and faculty. The other interns were busy compiling contacts and information.
“We’re rebranding to get the information out to the student body and out to the community. And we like feedback. Shoot us an email,” said intern Tyler Craig.
The centralized resource links include student supports, academic aid, health and counselling, peer programs and clubs and emergency contacts.
A new addition this year has been online training modules about high-risk drinking to further the training of residence staff and members of the Red and Blue Crew, which is the student-led initiative to encourage responsible drinking.
Both Craig and Allen are student residence staff, so they are well aware of the need to retool training in order to provide “more help for more people.” They say the Acadia Students’ Union has been very supportive, especially vice-president for programming Colton Fagan, who was an intern two years ago.
“Change is rolling,” said Allen. She says the modules about aid and communication are being utilized currently. The aim is to make current resources easily accessible and fill in the gaps for resources that the campus might lack.
Allen, who is a sociology major, says her mother works in the field of addictions.
“It’s really interesting and eye opening,” she said.
Craig’s father is employed at a Salvation Army shelter and he’s worked on the front desk there. As a theatre student, he says he’s fascinated to try to understand how homeless people came to live on the street.
According to Kitchin, the interns collaborate with the student affairs staff at Acadia to polish the online resources.
“It’s all about keeping the students safe,” she adds.
Bringing expert speakers onto the campus offers another layer of community resources.
In 2013, there was a special focus on mental health, and in 2012, the six student interns took a serious look at alcohol use.