Two Student Life programs earn SUNY-wide awards

The SUNY system recently recognized Geneseo with two awards for programs that have improved the quality of campus life for students.

Geneseo's "You Belong: COUNT During Your First Semester" program earned a Transfer Student Support Services/Success award, and its "Stand Up for One Another" program received an award in the category of Health and Wellness.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher presented Outstanding Student Affairs Program Awards at the Oct. 4 Council of Chief Student Affairs Officers meeting in Rochester, N.Y. This meeting was held in conjunction with the New York State College Student Personnel Association conference.

SUNY colleges from across the state submitted nominations for the fifth annual competition, and a selection committee comprised of representatives from individual campuses and System Administration selected four programs to receive awards.

"You Belong: COUNT During Your First Semester" was created by the Office of Residence Life in spring 2009 in order to help transfer students make a smooth and successful transition into campus life. Assistant Director of Residence Life Kim Harvey said the pilot for the program began in fall 2008 with a speed networking program that encouraged transfer students to meet one another and a pre-advisement and course registration program that catered specifically to transfers. This pilot eventually became "You Belong."

"One of the main focuses of the 'You Belong' program is to assist in academic and social transitions for transfer students," Harvey said. "The programs themselves are largely … successful because of the transfer student housing blocks we have. We've paired the actual programs with those blocks, knowing that there is highly concentrated interest in those areas."

The "Stand Up for One Another" program was also created to improve the quality of campus life. Director of College Union and Activities Chip Matthews said he designed the program in fall 2009 in order to "create a community where people are valued and feel safe." He said the program aims to create an "open discussion with students about looking out for one another." The program encourages students to stand up for one another and intervene in situations in a manner that matches their comfort level.

"Doing something is better than doing nothing," Matthews said.

The program involves face-to-face discussions with first year students beginning the first weekend of the school year. Discussion facilitators have included resident assistants, Greek peer educators, athletes, health guards and student government leaders.

In addition to receiving awards from the SUNY system, both programs have been recognized by external organizations. Last spring, Harvey's presentation on "You Belong: An Innovative TRANSFERmation" was selected as an American College Personnel Association Housing and Residence Life Commission-sponsored program at the ACPA annual convention. "Stand Up for One Another" received the Collaborative Program of the Year award from the Association of College Unions International in March 2010.