• The Manitou Messenger celebrates over 125 years of student journalism January 23, 2013

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Wellness Center moves, welcomes new director

Ashley Belisle and Barite Gutama

From the first-year student confused by the “Toilet Talk” posters inside every bathroom stall in Buntrock Commons to the senior who has been accustomed to snatching handfuls of free condoms every week for the past four years, every single Ole has something to learn from the new-and-improved Wellness Center.

Taylor Lipo Zovic ’14 is one of 15 peer educators, students employed by the Wellness Center to coach their peers in diverse aspects of personal wellness. She was eager to summarize the Wellness Center’s purpose for those who are unfamiliar with it.

“It looks at Oles’ wellness from a holistic perspective,” said Lipo Zovic, adding that the Wellness Center provides information on stress, anxiety, feeling homesick, alcohol use, sexual health, nutrition and fitness.

“The Wellness Center delivers its services in three ways,” Lipo Zovic explained. In the first place, it offers peer counseling services, where students can talk to peer educators about specific issues. According to Lipo Zovic, each peer educator is specialized in one of five topics: alcohol and other drugs, sexual health, mental health, nutritional health or physical health.

“There are free pamphlets in the office if Oles want to learn more about a certain topic, and condoms are available to be purchased at an affordable price,” Lipo Zovic said. Returning students might balk at that information, knowing that, in past years, the Wellness Center has offered condoms to students free of charge. Lipo Zovic explained that, traditionally, the purchase of condoms has eaten up an enormous portion of the Wellness Center’s annual budget. Now, more of that money will be available for the weekly events for which the Wellness Center is known.

Though the price of condoms might be the most obvious change to returning Oles, the Wellness Center has actually undergone a variety of changes since the 2012-2013 academic year. The office, for instance, has moved to Buntrock 112, across the hall from the Student Activities office. According to Lipo Zovic, the new office offers “nicer and bigger spaces.”

In addition, the Wellness Center has welcomed a new coordinator, Jamie Cathcart, as well as several new peer educators. This year, Wellness Center peer educators will offer programs and events, including games, presentations and trivia.

Students enrolled in courses that require them to attend Wellness Center events, as well as those simply interested in health and wellness topics, can look to the bulletin board outside of the Wellness Center office for postings about upcoming events, awareness weeks and other opportunities for students to interact and be involved.

This year, the Wellness Center aims to focus on reaching out to more students and increasing awareness of its services among Oles.

“The Wellness Center faces the difficulty of often being mistaken for Health Services,” Lipo Zovic said. “Sometimes people confuse us and don’t know exactly what we’re here for specifically. There are so many services that the Wellness Center provides, and most students are not taking advantage of them.”

Wellness Center peer educators urge all Oles, both brand-new students and those returning for their third or fourth years, to take advantage of everything they have to offer.

 

belisle@stolaf.edu

gutama@stolaf.edu

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