The Shapiro Campus Center (SCC) atrium was transformed on Tuesday, Sept. 24 as the Resilience Fair set up shop, luring students to the event with Lizzy’s Ice Cream and booths peppered with candy and stickers. Lizzy’s donated ice cream for the event free of charge, and volunteers from the Department of Community Service helped dole it out to the students.
Wendy Gordon-Hewick, a coordinator and one of the primary creators of the Resilience Fair, stood guard at the beginning of the half-circle of tables set up by each club, student organization or university department. For Gordon-Hewick, this was a long time coming. “I’m so glad that it’s finally here,” she said as she organized the flyers and the “passports”—pieces of paper with boxes that students could get checked off by each booth to win prizes—on the Care Team’s table.
The Care Team at Brandeis is a student resource that responds to threats to personal safety, personal or emotional distress, academic distress or any other possibly dangerous behavior by coordinating “the resources of the university to intervene and provide necessary support,” according to the Brandeis website.
Gordon-Hewick is the Care Team Case Manager, and she has been working with the administration to get the fair up and running. She said that the main goal of the fair is “to help students gain awareness of all the resources here at Brandeis” because many students who could use these resources do not know that they exist.
The Resilience Fair highlighted many different resources available on campus, including: the Dean of Students Office, Brandeis Counseling Center, Prevention, Advocacy, and Resource Center (PARC), International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO), Intercultural Center (ICC), Food Pantry, Academic Resources, Student Accessibility Support, Health Center, Graduate Student Affairs, Health and Wellness Services, Center for Spiritual Life and Gender and Sexuality Center.
Lara Erikson, assistant director of the Center for Spiritual Life, which includes the Chaplaincy of religious leaders on campus, talked about the events the department leads, specifically the Zen Zone. Reverend Matt Carriker, the Brandeis Protestant Chaplain, leads the Zen Zone, an event to practice mindfulness and awareness. Erikson said that connecting with one’s spiritual life “can really be a source of resilience for people.” The Center for Spiritual Life has numerous other events and resources such as Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and Muslim services.
The other resources represented at the Resilience Fair were also looking to raise awareness for their clubs, such as the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC), founded in 2014. A representative from the GSC said that the Center is there to support queer students, offer therapy sessions and provide a “safe space for people to come and hang out.” They said that they are still “in the phase of raising visibility.” The center is hosting a “queer and trans clothing exchange,” according to its website, on Oct. 11 to celebrate National Coming Out Day.
The Fair also hosted drop-in programs, made up of three outside organizations that support student resilience. Members from these programs came to the SCC to show students even more about resilience on campus. Yoga and Mindfulness, two of the drop-in programs that often work with the Center for Spiritual Life, helped students relax and learn about meditation.
The third drop-in program was a visit from one of the on-campus therapy dogs. Harley Quinn, Harley for short, waited outside the SCC to eat treats and be pet by students. The Brandeis therapy dogs are popular Instagram celebrities around campus, and Harley was a huge draw to passers-by, directing students toward the Fair, so they could check off the therapy dog station on their passports.
The Resilience Fair will return to the SCC twice more this coming school year on Jan. 29 and March 4.