Wellness Commission looks to help student organizations

President's Commission on Wellness focuses inward

Published by Sarah Anderson, Date: February 17, 2023
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The President’s Commission on Wellness is one of eight at Slippery Rock University. Their website states that their mission is to “facilitate initiatives that promote awareness of wellness and empower individuals to make choices and enact behaviors that positively influence their wellness.”

There are seven different categories of wellness within the commission. This includes physical, emotional, spiritual, social, intellectual, environmental and occupational wellness.

“I think people hear ‘wellness’ and they go physical or mental a lot of times,” Aubrey Rader, assistant director of student organizations and leadership, said. “We’re trying to help them understand the broadness of the categories [and how they intersect].”

Nick Barcio, assistant director of transfer admissions and co-chair of the Wellness Commission, notes that because of COVID-19 and other circumstances, the commission is currently reworking itself. This includes rewriting the constitution and reflecting on the mission and vision statement.

“I think right now our mission is to try and assist other organizations on campus,” Barcio said. “Specifically student organizations and provide funding for them to do events on campus.”

Currently, the Wellness Commission is focusing its efforts on helping fund programming for student organizations.

Last semester, for example, the Wellness Commission collaborated with SPARK (Strengthening Positivity and Reinforcing Kindness) Club and various other organizations for Joy Day.

They hope to put on more large-scale events with student organizations all across campus. Students are able to reach out for funding on the university’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) webpage.

“There’s different stipulations as guidelines [on the DEIB website],” Rader said. “Really any program being put on by an SRU constituent that could impact campus-wide.”

Organizations can not request funding for an event that is open to only members of that specific organization. Any event that is sponsored by the Wellness Commission must be open to all students, faculty and staff.

The commission does not do its own independent or regular programming, but there is a meditation room in the Smith Student Center that is open to the SRU community.

Prior to COVID-19, they offered other initiatives. They held a demo for SRU faculty and staff utilizing the Aebersold Recreation Center (ARC) without a membership. Along with that they had done weekly faculty and staff yoga.

With the “rebuilding,” as Barcio said, they are hoping to put more of these initiatives back into place.

One plan in progress is possibly a president’s 5K race as a welcome-back event in the fall semester. This was a tradition when Cheryl Norton was president of SRU.

The Wellness Commission is currently preparing for the arrival of the next university president, Karen Riley, and waiting for what ideas she has for all of the President’s Commissions.

“I think we’re just trying to [restructure] to get our stuff together,” Barcio said, “and present in a uniform way—give her [Riley] this little package of ‘here’s the [President’s Commission]; it’s really cool.'”

As of now, Chief Diversity Officer Anthony Jones is helping coordinate the commissions for overall better communication and getting all seven into a productive spot for Riley’s arrival at SRU.

Things going back to “normal” after the pandemic has the commission looking toward what is important for the community. Through conversations with students and other community members, Barcio came to the conclusion that the majority of people are struggling with social wellness.

I think that’s one thing that we’re still lacking. People are a little bit timid or afraid, or don’t know how to get together socially, in a physical environment,” Barcio said.

The Wellness Commission hopes to add more voting bodies to the organization, comprised of students, faculty and staff. There is a lot of excitement around what is to come for the commission.

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