As we are reaching the end of the school year and are at the dawn of Hastings 2.0, multiple on-campus groups are asking: where exactly do we fit in? PUN (Peer Umbrella Network), best known for throwing around condoms and the ‘tea’ video during your first-year seminar course, has been a part of the Hastings College campus for generations. Groups such as C.A.R.E., PHIVE-O, Alliance and SHAC are student organizations comprised of trained peer-educators who are focused on promoting a positive campus community that reflects the attitudes, behaviors, and values of a healthy and safe campus.
The truth is these groups are dying. But, the college climate is not changing. This past year the PUN group BACCHUS (Boost Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students) was dissolved due to a lack of membership. The purpose of BACCHUS was to encourage responsible decision-making concerning the use or non-use of alcohol and other drugs. As a result, C.A.R.E. and PHIVE-O had to supplement this information during first- year INT presentations. These college students didn’t stop drinking; they were just educated on the topic, leading to students’ safety while or while not intoxicated. It’s easy to think that these organizations are not valued on campus because students are not joining them. But, by knowing the ‘BACCHUS Maneuver,’ you can save your friends in the Altman bathroom. C.A.R.E. gives you the tools to be an active bystander in dangerous situations. Phive-O teaches safe sex education, something many students might have missed in high school. Alliance provides ally ship to marginalized students on campus. SHAC increases our awareness of ways to be physically and emotionally healthy. The things you learn from peer educators have saved and will save lives. I don’t think you can ignore the importance of it or the organization behind it.
The dialogue surrounding physical and sexual safety has been gaining legitimacy within college campuses all around the United States, and we are not immune. While first-year seminar courses are restructuring, there is the question of whether PUN will live to see another school year or if the content will be replaced with alternative student educators. As a PHIVE-O member who has received great HIV/AIDS training, I believe for this campus to thrive, the students who were trained must be the students who are allowed to help. While members of the student body can be helpful when navigating these campus issues, we have a network of students who have gone through extensive training on these topics. Overarchingly, they truly care about the issues they are teaching. To improve this campus, PUN needs to be allowed to do the job they were trained to do.
I vastly encourage all students of any academic standing to consider joining PHIVE-O or any PUN organization. PHIVE-O applications are available online and tryouts are April 17. Within the past few years, PHIVE-O has been able to provide the campus with increased access to modes of sexual protection and as of this year, free monthly STI and HIV-testing. We are seeking to support a group of new adults that come from a range of educational backgrounds, entering college completely on their own. If you don’t personally feel the need to join PUN, support us by attending any upcoming campus events. Simply, support us in order to ensure the safety of this college we call home.