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The Peer Drop-In Center offers support for SSU students

College life is seldom stress-free for the modern student. With schoolwork, extracurriculars, social events, major life transitions and more, many students experience high anxiety and struggles with mental health. Like most universities, Shawnee State has resources available to students who are struggling. One such resource is the Peer Drop-In Center (PDC).

“The Peer Drop-In Center is an office made up of current students who have completed the NASPA Certified Peer Educator (CPE) course,” according to Kaitlyn Cooper (she/her), a certified peer educator at the PDC. “As a team, our goal is to help improve the quality of life of students at Shawnee State University.”

Cooper’s team focuses on all things education when it comes to physical health, mental health, sexual health and self-care. The PDC provides a safe space for students in the basement of Massie Hall in room B1. This room is the PDC Lounge, where students can find information pamphlets just outside the door, coloring pages, board games, puzzles and a quiet, cozy space to relax and study.

“Also, if you need time alone, feel free to let (fellow peer educator) Taylor (Mershon) or I know, and we will close the lounge door, let people know that it is in use, and you can relax in a safe space for a little while,” Cooper said.

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Students are free to use the whiteboard to study, nap in the pillow corner or turn down the lights to reduce eye strain.

“Our lounge has so much to offer, and we hope to see students coming by more often,” Cooper said.

The PDC Lounge isn’t all the center has to offer, though. The PDC’s main office, run by Mershon and Cooper, is located in room B3, and it offers a “private, confidential environment [for students] to seek help from their peers.”

“All CPEs sign confidentiality agreements and practice [confidentiality] with every student, so private discussions are safe with us,” Cooper said.

The many services offered by the PDC include comprehensive sex education, free contraception and safe sex items, academic help, peer education and support, time/stress-management skills and more. The PDC isn’t just a good resource for students, though, as the center also provides inclusivity training for offices and organizations. 

There have been changes to the PDC over the summer, and the biggest one is the move to Massie Hall’s basement.

“In our new location, we are better equipped to give students private spaces to decompress and talk with a CPE while simultaneously providing other students with a relaxing lounge to just hang out in,” Cooper said.

In addition to having a better space, Cooper said the PDC is planning new events for this semester, so she advises students to watch the SSU app and the Bear Buzz newsletter in your Outlook email to know when events will be scheduled. 

Cooper noted that her favorite parts of her job as a certified peer educator are “always events, student interactions and opportunities for sex education.” She hopes to be a sex educator one day, so whenever she can help connect a student to resources, information and safe sex items, she feels proud.

“Otherwise, events and talking with students have been some of the most fulfilling experiences for me,” she said. “There’s nothing quite like hosting an event, getting a group of people together and having fun despite all of the stresses that a person can experience in college.”

Cooper said she’s grateful for her job as a CPE, which allows her to constantly meet new people and learn new things. If students are interested in becoming a certified peer educator, they can register for a one credit hour course on MySSU titled Certified Peer Educator, course code BSHS-1999. This course is offered online over a half session, and passing the course will result in receiving a NASPA Peer Educator Certification.

“The most important thing I can say about the PDC is that we care about our students,” Cooper said.

The PDC’s team has done all they can to create a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment for all students. From hosting events to raise awareness on sexual, physical and mental health to providing a physical safe space on campus, the Peer Drop-In Center has resources to help students and the motivation to make campus a more supportive and inclusive environment. Any student in need of a quiet space, someone to talk to or a place to decompress is invited to visit the center.

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About the Contributor
Chandler-Ryan McClurg
Chandler-Ryan McClurg, Staff Writer
Chandler-Ryan McClurg is a junior at Shawnee State University majoring in communication. He was born and raised in Portsmouth, and while Shawnee State University wasn’t his first college choice, he has made the best out of his situation. During his time at Shawnee State, he has discovered a calling and passion for communication, in part because it has allowed him to truly find his voice and be heard. At only 20 years old, McClurg has made a name for himself as a staff writer for Shawnee State’s Bear Buzz, a newsletter made by students for students. His work also extends into providing a voice for queer students on campus. When not at school, McClurg is just as passionate about his activities off campus as a poet, actor, musician and drag artist, as well as a member of the queer community. He wants to find a job that makes him happy and keeps his orientation toward justice at the forefront. When McClurg was asked what message he would like to share with the world, his response was, “Live life like a sitcom,” which is the motto he lives by each day.

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