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SWAT remodels program, highlights diversity

February 25, 2015

The student organization S.W.A.T, or Student Wellness Awareness Team, is revamping their program and accepting applications for the new year. 

 

 

The program will begin accepting applications Feb. 23, which can be found on the group’s new website through the MyUT portal.

 

S.W.A.T was created to encourage wellness and healthy habits for students in college, according to Heather Veith, a graduate assistant in the office of the vice president of student affairs. She said the group uses different methods to reach out to the student body such as performances, peer mentoring and advocacy.

 

The main topics the group covers include drinking, unhealthy relationships, self-perception and other main issues that college students face every year.

 

This year, the group is in the process of changing things according to Dean of Students Tamika Mitchell. They are switching departments and management to try to refocus and help the group grow.

 

“[S.W.A.T] is just going to be remarketed and sort of recreated for maybe what the students’ needs are now,” Veith said.

 

The group is now under the division of student involvement and is in the process of being reorganized to bring more personnel in to help. Darci Ault, who has led S.W.A.T. since it was created and is the professor of the SWAT 1 class, has taken a new role at the University of Toledo, according to Mitchell.

 

“We’re currently in the position of bringing in additional staff and student involvement that will be working with the programmatic aspect of S.W.A.T,” Mitchell said.

 

According to Veith, the main purpose of this change is to help grow the program by including more diverse students with different cultures and backgrounds who can bring interesting perspectives to the group. She said the administration hoped to include a larger variety of students in the group, as many of the members encourage their friends to join, which can cause the group to miss connecting with a large part of the student body.

 

S.W.A.T. is hoping to see a wider range of students apply. The students who apply are desired to be motivated, goal-driven, in good academic standing, and those who want to give back to the community, Veith said.

 

Level three S.W.A.T. member and fifth-year senior majoring in exercise science physical therapy Corey Dumski said S.W.A.T. members should have certain characteristics.

 

“Be charismatic,” Dumski said. “Be open-minded.”

 

As a way to achieve this goal, S.W.A.T altered their interviewing process. They now have an online application submission process, and have put together a committee to review the applications, according to Veith.

 

“This is our goal,” Mitchell said. “It’s to put together a committee where the students are involved and there’s a full-time staff member.”

 

The new committee will then interview the candidates and choose 30 new applicants. They will announce the new members in early April, so the students can schedule around the program.

 

All members accepted during the application period will be level one members of S.W.A.T. This level is purely a classroom setting. Students get credit hours for taking the course and learning valuable skills.

 

Throughout the semester, students will develop public speaking skills, leadership skills and gain an extensive knowledge on how to promote wellness and healthy habits on campus and throughout their lives, Veith said.

 

“You’re not just sitting there and listening to Darci lecture, you’re getting out of your seats, you’re interacting with other students around you, you’re talking about hard-hitting subjects,” Dumski said.

 

After the completion of the class, students will be considered level two members and will put on different skits and programs with the group to educate students about important topics.

 

One example of these performances is the Life at College program, which Veith said most orientation teachers require their students to go to for class credit. This program teaches freshman about drinking and sexual assault on campus.

 

According to Veith, the students will be considered nationally-certified peer educators once the program is completed, and will walk away with a new set of skills they can take into any job field.

 

“It’s not just a semester class,” Dumski said, “it’s a whole career that you’re developing and networking.”

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