BC Peer Education Group Earns National Honors

BC Peer Education Group Earns National Honors

The Boston College Peer Education Network has once again received international recognition for its efforts in training undergraduates to address student health and safety issues.

At the general assembly of the BACCHUS & GAMMA Peer Education Network held at Kissimmee, Fla., in November, Boston College was presented with the Outstanding Affiliate Award, while senior James Hsu was named an Outstanding Student and a program he co-developed won Outstanding Program honors.

PEN's Outstanding Affiliate Award was its sixth such honor in the last seven years. Boston College Assistant Dean for Alcohol and Drug Education Kimberley Timpf, PEN's advisor, credited the group's success to its training and comprehensiveness.

"They are incredibly dedicated students," she said. "Their training is very comprehensive. They reach out in a lot of different ways. They survey the student body and create programs in response to students' needs. And they evaluate the programs for their effectiveness."

PEN's goals are to encourage good decision-making and healthy choices among students as well as to assure civility and respectful behavior on campus. PEN volunteers work to increase awareness and understanding of issues ranging from alcohol and other drugs, sexual assault, HIV/AIDS, eating disorders and body image, and related social issues. Their outreach, which also includes programs at local high schools and middle schools, utilizes drama, interactive presentations, skits, question-and-answer discussions, improvs, awareness campaigns and guest speakers, among other means.

Hsu, a political science major from Albuquerque, NM, was one of six Outstanding Student Award recipients from BACCHUS & GAMMA, a group of nearly 1,000 peer education affiliates from around the world with about 25,000 active members. Among his accomplishments was the co-development of Project MESA (Men Ending Sexual Assault), which was named one of six Outstanding Programs.

Project MESA's goal is to empower men to help combat the culture of rape and sexual assault, Hsu explains. "Traditionally, the topic of sexual assault was considered a women's issue and programs were designed to teach women how to avoid being victims of sexual assaults," said Hsu. "What we realized is that in 99 percent of the cases of rape or sexual assault, men are the perpetrators; therefore, rape and sexual assault cannot be viewed as a women's issue; by definition, we males are involved in the issue whether we like it or not."

Also at the general assembly, BC junior Jennifer Chow, a biology major from Bronx, NY, was elected to the national board of BACCHUS & GAMMA. She will represent some 50 New England colleges and universities.

-Kathleen Sullivan

 

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