The Plattsburgh State Title IX Office hosted its Community Collaboration Workshops in Hawkins Hall last Saturday, intending to bring students and Plattsburgh-area residents together to learn about issues such as mental illness, domestic violence, diversity and sexuality.
“It’s to raise awareness for them and us,” said Miles Guzman, Title IX workshop intern. “But I think it’s more important for [Plattsburgh-area residents] so they know what’s going on inside our campus.”
However, fewer than 10 people from outside the campus community attended, according to Guzman.
“We’re living in their town, so they should see the issues we have to go through,” he said.
Guzman first got involved by attending peer-led workshops for a gender and women’s studies weekend course more than a year ago.
“At first, it was just for a credit, but then it ended up changing a lot of the ways I think about certain things,” he said. “I realized a lot of the things I did were problematic.”
The course allowed him to become a peer educator and run his own workshops during the community collaboration event.
“I went home, and I was telling all my friends, ‘Don’t do this, and don’t do that.’ I felt very passionate about it.”
This is Guzman’s third semester as a peer educator. Besides helping organize this year’s Community Collaboration Workshops as an intern, he also lead a workshop with 2017 PSUC alumnus Marco DiGirolomo about sex positivity.
Participants could choose to attend four of the more than 20 total workshops offered.
Monica Latrell, a nurse at the campus health center, led a workshop on anxiety and depression, which covered the symptoms and effects of these illnesses, discussed possible treatments and addressed self harm.
Since last August, 607 people went to the health center for depression, making it one of the leading reasons for visits, according to Latrell.
“Depression is just as real as cancer,” she said.
She thinks statistics that show women having higher rates of depression than men may be somewhat skewed. Men might not seek help as often and are more likely to use drugs and alcohol to cope, she noted.
The number one reason for health center visits was anxiety with 978 since August.
Symptoms of anxiety can include restlessness, irritability, lack of sleep, chest pain and fatigue, Latrell said.
“It’s tearing your body down.”
And she stressed the importance of not feeling ashamed or embarrassed to seek help.
“The stigma needs to be dropped.”
PSUC student Omar Raddaoui attended Latrell’s workshop. He thought the information was accurate, but it felt more like a presentation.
“When it comes to workshops, it would have to get a little bit more involved. If you’re not interested, you’re not going to understand it.”
But he felt it was useful to show the number of people who visited the health center this year for anxiety and depression.
“It does encourage a lot of people.”
Down the hall from Latrell’s room, LGBTQ+ Student Union President, Aris Alonzo, led “Queer 101,” which focused on heterosexual privilege as well as the complex spectrum of identities within the LGBTQ+ community.
“Identity can be confusing, because you can be a little of each.”
She noted that heterosexual privilege is not widely recognized and understood. Members of the LGBTQ+ community may have a harder time getting legally married, finding a job and adopting children.
Alonzo also addressed the issue of gender dysphoria, the mental distress experienced by people whose assigned sex and gender does not match the sex and gender with which they personally identify.
She was more than happy to be involved with the Community Collaboration Workshops, she said.
“I think a lot of students aren’t really educated in basic queer knowledge. I wish there was more participation, but I think it’s something nice to do.”
Email Kody Mashtare at firstname.lastname@example.org