From this week until Thanksgiving break, Peer Health will hold its annual Peer 2 Peer conversations with first years. According to the website of the Office of Residential Life (ResLife), these conversations aim to help first year students navigate their transition to college by providing them with the opportunity to discuss alcohol and drug use with trained upperclassmen and to reflect on different aspects of their Bowdoin experience thus far.
Every member of the first-year class will meet with the Peer Health mentor assigned to their floor.
“Students are starting to get into the swing of things and notice some parts of Bowdoin that are easy and some that are difficult, both socially and academically,” said Tim Coston ’17, interim assistant director of residential education and residential life. “The Peer Health person is really there to listen and to lend their ear. They are not there to provide advice. They are explicitly told not to do that.”
This is Coston’s first year overseeing the group following the departure of Christian van Loenen, whose two-year tenure with the College as the assistant director of health promotion and education ended last spring.
During his time as a Bowdoin student, Coston was a leader in Peer Health. His class year was the first year the Peer 2 Peer conversations were fully implemented, which puts him in a unique position as he takes on a role leading the administrative side of the program.
Student mentors were also involved in College House orientation events for first year students. The group plans on hosting more events for first years throughout the rest of the year.
“Peer health members are still spending time on their floors outside of the Peer 2 Peer programs so that those relationships will last,” said Coston. “So if they do programming next February, students are going to want to go to those programs…and trust that it will be worth their time.”
Coston noted that Peer Health used to create campus-wide programming that focused on a different theme each month. In recent years, the group has been moving away from that model in favor of programming specifically focused on first year students. Coston stressed, however, that Peer Health members can still be a resource to upperclassmen, even if a formal affiliation between an upperclassmen residency and a Peer Health member does not exist.
“Peer health is always coming from a health and wellness standpoint, never from a disciplinary standpoint,” said Coston.