Held by the University Program Board (UPB) on Thursday afternoon, students attended the Home Away from Home event, an attempt to encourage those returning to campus for the spring semester.
As Celine Halt, a senior resort recreation and hospitality major and the club’s president, put it, UPB wanted to “color outside of the lines” rather than put on another event centered around February’s holiday of love.
“For our winter/springtime event, we usually go with a Valentine’s Day event, but we wanted to change it up a little bit this year,” said Halt. “We figured, since we’re coming off of winter break, most people are missing home. We wanted to bring the comforts of home to Slippery Rock.”
“In my perspective, if students aren’t feeling comfortable and at home at SRU, then it’s really hard to thrive academically and professionally,” said Emily McClaine, a student success coach in the Office for Inclusive Excellence. “So, feeling like SRU is a fit and is a home, I think, makes all the difference for them.”
Macaroni and cheese and pierogis were set out for students to munch on while they made their way around the Smith Student Center ballroom, making their own pillows, sand art or custom street signs. They were also given a choice of cookies, graham crackers, pretzels, strawberries and marshmallows to dip under a flowing chocolate fountain.
“We develop ourselves so much while we’re here [in Slippery Rock] and we spend so much of our time here,” said Kourtney Kotvas, president of the gender studies club, which set out paint and stones for students to decorate pet rocks with. “I feel like you truly can’t get a good college experience without making sure you’re comfortable and happy with where you’re at.”
Most importantly, students were introduced—or reintroduced—to resources on campus that could help with the obstacles of carrying a college workload.
HOPE peer educators were at the event, providing tips on how to combat stress with priority lists and self-affirmation cards. Students were also welcomed to pet Morgan, a two-year-old Boxer mix brought by Shelter Sidekicks. McClaine represented the coaching program, promoting self-care and community-building.
“Any kind of exposure that students can have to new resources and support systems to feel like this is a community is really important,” McClaine said.
“Bringing groups from the health and counseling center helps remind students of the resources we have on campus and that they aren’t as intimidating as they seem,” Halt said. “We’re hoping this [event] does set precedence in terms of collaboration, what novelties we bring, and the student interaction as well.”