Changing the culture.
This is the main goal of prevention work being done on campus. It can be a tall order when trying to connect with students on nuanced topics like bystander intervention and consent. Assistant Director of Interpersonal Violence Prevention and Advocacy Viviane Linos saw the need for a student-led program and began the work to form a peer education group just months after joining the Counseling and Psychological Services team.
Throughout her interpersonal violence prevention career, Linos has seen the many benefits of a peer education group. "I feel it's the best way to meet students where they're at and actually work towards changing the culture," said Linos.
Aside from seeing the benefits in real time, peer education is also a national best practice and continues to be a successful strategy in the Student Affairs community nationwide.
Linos started setting the groundwork for a PPEP group in fall of 2022. Through an ICAN mini-grant, Linos built the program and recruited six students to be the first members of its cohort. In November, these students went through a seven-week training before they engaged with other Jaguars on prevention education topics.
How PPEP is positively impacting our campus community
The mission of this peer education group is to:
- Promote healthy social norms on campus.
- Make campus a safer place.
- Equip students to be educators through tabling, events, workshops and presentations.
- Facilitate conversation between peers.
- Be involved in program planning.
In order to achieve this throughout the spring semester, PPEP members reached 540 students by facilitating events like the Clothesline Project, planning programs for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and collaborating with student organizations. Just in April, Black Student Union and PPEP partnered to create a space for open discussion about sexual violence in the Black community.
Student Affairs also recognized PPEP’s hard work by awarding Linos, her team and the students with Best Initiative/Service at the division’s end-of-year awards ceremony.
The future of PPEP
With such a strong foundation in place, Linos is excited to see how PPEP continues to grow. For the fall, PPEP will see an increase in its number of cohorts, with four returning members and six new members.
Due to increased interest in mental health topics and access to mental health experts within CAPS, PPEP will expand to include mental health prevention and stigma reduction efforts into the overall culture change mission. The group is excited to grow its advisor team by welcoming Brittany Snyder, assistant director of mental health outreach, and Maddie Folta, prevention education specialist.
"We invite students who don't have a lot of knowledge around these topics, but have a passion and want to learn more. And we're utilizing this program to not just educate and engage with our community, but to also develop the students who are in the program in a leadership capacity," said Linos.
"They can take this experience with them outside of IUPUI and continue to impact our community in positive ways."
Hear what inspired students to join PPEP
"After personally experiencing violence in an interpersonal relationship and then receiving support from CAPS, I loved the opportunity to educate my peers on the resources available to them."
"'I want to make the world a better place' is a cookie cutter answer, but it's true. And the root of it is I never know where to put my foot in the door. PPEP is the perfect opportunity to get access to resources and connections that I can help my community with. As one person, I can only do so much, but as a team, we can all do so much more."
"I want to help my peers know more about themselves. Too many students sit silently facing discrimination and oppression and if I can help even one person become educated on these issues, then I'd feel like I helped to make a change."