By: Danielle Sheahan, Features Writer
Joe’s PEERS is an organization supported by Missouri S&T which put on events promoting student wellness. Student wellness is described as the betterment of intellectual, social, environmental, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and physical aspects of students. Joe’s PEERS are Missouri S&T students who have applied to become volunteers to serve our campus. There are a select few students who are paid for their positions, and they are called PWE (PEER Wellness Educators). They are paid to be the main reference person for a social norms topic area.
These topic areas include:
Sexualized Violence & Healthy Relationships
Alcohol & Other Drugs
Fitness, Nutrition & Sexual Health
Research & Development
Each topic area involves learning more about topics that are typically “awkward” and the PWEs want to change “awkward” to normal. Under the PWE is a set of designated certified peer educators who all have mini-bios on the Meet the Joe’s PEERS webpage. These students care about the department very much, and they even hang out after volunteer hours as one of the certified peer educators informed me:
“We are all really close friends. We hang out with each other outside of events all the time. Every semester we have […] forced family fun where we do something together. It’s a joke though because it’s not forced.”
- Chloe Sutton, sexualized violence and healthy relationships certified peer educator
By having close relationships with each other they can better reflect Joe’s PEERS motives, which is bringing light to topics that are not talked about typically by young adults and professionals. Whether that means running around offering condoms and candy or presenting on serious topics like sexual harassment or mental illness. They strive to have an environment where everything is talked about and provide a campus where every student knows how to handle and discuss sensitive situations.
Joe’s PEERS are certified and work closely with professional staff of counseling, police department and other experienced staff. They are eligible to go to two conferences every year to learn about other campus strategies and to network. This way if they cannot solve a problem for a student they know someone else that will know the answer. An organization can even request trainings for their members.
The two conferences are BACCHUS, a national general assembly conference. Only mentors and university students and staff can attend, but it is universities across the United States. The second conference is called Meeting of the Mines. Meeting of the Mines is only the midwest region out of the BACCHUS regions. It is the same as the BACCHUS but just less universities, enabling more students from one university to be able to attend. At the conferences each attendee participates in a presentation or case study. A presentation can consist of successful programs, lessons learned from failed programs and strategies to make programs better. Attendees will sit in on other presentations and bring ideas back to better their campus. They network with other student staff on other campuses to get contacts for future references.
There are two upcoming events, Injury Prevention Clinic and SAW (Sexual Assault Awareness Week). Injury Prevention Clinic is one of the first evening programs so students to work out properly and team up with professional trainers. While SAW, will be a week long event which they are teaming up with a campus organization to do something different everyday to spread awareness about sexual assault.
For those who are interested in getting involved with Joe’s PEERS, you must apply to become a volunteer with some written recommendation from professional or academic references. Then you might be asked to have a group interview with the current Joe’s PEERS. The group interview consists of a few fun questions like, “what is your spirit animal,” and a few serious questions about your motivations. If you get past the group interview you will then have an individual interview with the head advisor, Jessica Gargus. After becoming a Joe’s PEER you are required to participate in Step Up and a mini-conference to become a certified PEER educator. Then the fun begins!
Please know Joe’s PEERS are a very open group of students and staff who are always wanting to help. If you are ever in need of their assistance feel free to visit them at 201 Norwood Hall, http://studentwellness.mst.edu/joespeers/, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.