Pathways helps students seek advice from peer advocates

Lately, there have been some curious green posters plastered all over campus. It may seem like just another new club trying to get its foot in the door, but Geneseo's new peer advocacy program, Pathways, is a one-of-a-kind campus organization that is very ready to do its part.

The need for a peer advocacy program was discovered at the Sexual Assault Teach-In last year. Statistics showed that many students were experiencing a variety of incidents but weren't sure how to go about either reporting or even talking about them without having to file an official report.

Psychology professor Jennifer Katz said she saw the creation of Pathways in fall 2011 as an answer to these problems. After an intensive training process there is now a group of students skilled in helping other students seek support and resources for their respective problems, all confidentially.

So who exactly are these students and what do they do?

They are called peer advocates, a compassionate group of people wanting to help fellow students find answers to their problems and lend a listening ear to anyone who may want or need one. There are 12 advocates in the program who are all psychology majors, and all of them are very familiar with Geneseo since Pathways requires that student advocates be upper classmen. These students trained over the summer through crisis hotline and peer advocacy research, as well as dealing with different situations and campus policy. They can talk as much or as little as students want about anything and refer other resources if necessary or by request.

This program is primarily phone-based, with multiple advocates on call every night from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Calls are anonymous and students can talk about any variety of subjects, including crisis situations, school problems, personal issues and relationship issues; nothing is off limits. The advocates are there to help weigh out options and listen to problems. In addition, because Pathways is peer-based and not an authoritative service, students always have the option to remain anonymous.

It's also another outlet for people who live off campus.

 To get involved with Pathways and become a peer advocate for spring 2012 check out their website at geneseo.edu/pathways. The application is due by Sept. 22 and you don't have to be a psychology major to join.

If you ever want someone to listen, don't hesitate to use Pathways by calling their hotline at (585) 237-8860. The group's email address is geneseopeeradvocacy@gmail.com and the advocates are also available in College Union Room 328 on Saturdays during their drop-in hours from 2 - 4 p.m.