The TWU office of Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach is establishing a new student organization this fall. The Social Change Peer Educators organization is seeking to prepare students to seek and advocate for social change by creating resources and a mentorship program that will allow students to develop their own leadership skills, and become the leaders they want in their communities. The stated purpose of the organization is to “ . . . heighten awareness and sensitivity regarding social issues within the TWU community through education, programming and training.” The program has grown from a sharing of ideas between DIO and the Office of Civility and Community Standards.
Inspiration for SCPE comes from TWU’s Peer Advocates Teaching Health organization. When thinking of ways to implement SCPE, Interim Director of TWU’s Office of Civility and Community Standards, Michelle Reeves, realized that PATH’s organizational structure of two leaders leading students through a series of trainings would fit perfectly within the organization’s goals. The program is looking for a small group of students: roughly eight; however, should the number of outstanding applicants exceed eight, exceptions will be made. Reeves stated that students hoping to be a part of the program will have to be “passionate about this idea of being an educator to other students.”
Reeves also stated that the program advisors will give suggestions on how these students will go about accomplishing their goals, but what they won’t do is “dictate what we are going to be talking about that year.” The students themselves will determine the ideas and the issues that the organization takes on.
“A lot of times students have great ideas and lots of passion; they just don’t know necessarily how to make those actionable, so we can help them on ‘how do you make this actionable,’ so that’s really what the premise of it (the program) is”said Reeves. Students can get advice and training on how to enact educational and promotional programs, how to go about teaching other student groups about the issue or how to establish an online program or a video series. “We can guide them on how to do that and make those events successful” said Reeves. The events and ideas will not be limited to the TWU campus either. Students are encouraged to seek out ideas that will affect the entire community, and to seek social change at a community level, students must interact with the entire community. It is even anticipated that students with opposing views could be selected to the organization, and the organization itself can serve as a lightning-rod for understanding between people with differing views. SCPE is at the genesis of its inception. They are currently working through an application process with applications from eligible students due by Sept. 22. Eligible students include juniors, seniors and graduate students, and a commitment period for both the fall and spring semesters is required for those selected. Students can go to www.twu.edu/diversity-inclusion-outreach to apply today.
Selections for the organization will be made October 2 with free mandatory training taking place Oct. 6 and 13. SCPE requires a significant commitment, but Reeves also pointed out that similar programs, such as Peer Counsel, are being started to allow students with less free-time to make a positive impact. Peer Council is an advocacy group for students by students that seeks to advise students who are defending themselves through conduct or academic integrity issues. Eligible students who are interested in either program should apply online today, and, as Gandhi once said, “be the change that you wish to see in the world.”