Welcome to the October 2015 college editions of Student Health 101. My goal is to anticipate your questions—if I miss anything, please post your comment or query below. Here, I’ll give the most space and time to our October feature on sexual assault and alcohol education. Is it necessary for SH101 to help students throw parties? Yes! I’ll outline the rationale for the piece and the evidence-based messaging and expertise that has gone into it.

Are you a social engineer? 4 ways to use your power for good

This 4-page feature addresses:

  • Alcohol and harm reduction, in support of Alcohol Awareness Month
  • Campus sexual culture, in support of ongoing sexual assault education and prevention efforts

Goal: Students who throw parties play an important role in shaping the sexual culture of their campus and community. They are the social engineers who design the spaces in which students meet, dance, talk, and sometimes drink or hook up—so they are in a great position to help reduce the rates of campus sexual assault.

Need: On most campuses, there is little support available to students. Even well intentioned party-throwers can struggle to create a social environment that makes it easier for everyone to make mindful decisions in which mutual respect and recognition are the default.

Actionable strategies: This piece outlines how student hosts can plan and host a safer party. It covers:

  • Identifying goals and priorities for the event
  • Liaising with campus security and neighbors
  • Setting up the space
  • Managing the door
  • De-escalating charged situations
  • Facilitating mindful choices around alcohol
  • Spotting signs of trouble
  • Handling the after-party

Evidence-based messaging: Students’ main motivation is the appeal of throwing a great party—one that will go smoothly and where their guests will be comfortable and happy. Scare tactics don’t work. For this feature, as always, SH101 is following evidence-based practices in health communication and harm reduction. We acknowledge the social and sexual realities of young adulthood and empower students to make healthy choices for themselves and their communities.

Expert writer, consultants, and reviewers: The feature is written by Hana Awwad, a student affairs fellow at Yale University. Ms. Awwad works on alcohol harms reduction programming and sexual culture change. Working with Dr. Melanie Boyd, a leading voice in campus sexual assault education, Ms. Awwad helps manage a group of diverse undergraduates tasked with building a more positive sexual climate. As always, the piece incorporates input from our Professional Advisory Board—primarily college health educators—and our Student Advisory Board.

Video: The accompanying video was created by students. It shows a fictionalized scenario demonstrating a simple, effective bystander intervention.

Modifications for editions:

  • For conservative schools that tread carefully around sensitive topics, the feature has been modified. Like the standard version, it makes clear that successful parties need not involve alcohol. It acknowledges and addresses alcohol consumption in interactive popup content rather than on the page. Any references to physical intimacy are discreet.
  • For nontraditional schools, this feature more directly acknowledges that parties may be held in the community rather than on campus.

Reminder: Through 2015-16 we are unifying SH101 sexual assault content with the hashtag #GetEmpowered—a positive and compelling concept. We are also using the term “sexual culture” and focusing primarily on positive (desirable) behaviors.

Briefly, here’s what else we have going on in October:

What does spirituality mean to you?
Research has documented a close association between spirituality and psychological resilience. We asked college students what spirituality means to them and how it helps them navigate the challenges of college life. This piece outlines the core concepts associated with psychological resilience—a recurring theme in SH101—and provides glimpses into how students are building their resilience via religious practice, prayer and meditation, exposure to nature and the arts, self-care, support groups, and so on.

Get your nature on
This piece profiles new ways that students are getting active outdoors and provides resources for getting started. It’s accompanied by a fabulous Instagram image—an example of one of our new student-generated content elements (see our September letter).

Drained? How to sync your sleep & life
This 4-page feature outlines the sleep cycle, its importance for students’ physical, academic, and emotional functioning, and expert guidance on how students can sleep better. The app review accompanying this feature is by a member of our 2015-16 Student Advisory Board who represents the edition you subscribe to (either a US undergraduate, Canadian undergraduate, or US nontraditional student). The graph illustrating the sleep cycle is based on the model favored by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which in 2007 conceived of the sleep cycle as consisting of three sleep stages +REM sleep (in other sources, it may still be presented as four stages + REM sleep).

Are you social or nocial?
“Nocial” means absorbed in your phone to the exclusion of the real world. In this 2-page quiz, students find out what to do about an unhealthy phone dependency.

4 keys to college courses
Many students are surprised by the academic expectations of college. This 2-page feature outlines four study habits for making it through. By Amy Baldwin, co-author of The College Experience (Prentice Hall, 2015).

UCookbook (Not your average nachos): our three cooks revamp nachos, creating healthier bases and incorporating more vegetables and protein.

FitnessU (Don’t bore your core): our trainers demo core techniques for the abs, obliques, and lower back.

Mind your mind: Part 2 of our mindfulness series helps students find their calm amid the chaos.

I hope that helps. As always, we value your feedback on how our content is working for your school and your suggestions for making it better. Please don’t hold back.

Best wishes,
Lucy Berrington
Editor (college editions)