Towers Talk is a WVU podcast featuring Residence Hall Coordinators Angela Delfine-Mechler and Patrick O’Donnell. Each week, the hosts bring you an interview with different members of the WVU community to help you get adjusted to your new campus home!

Join co-Hosts Angela Delfine-Mechler and Patrick O'Donnell as they interview the Director of WellWVU and host of the podcast, Wellbeing Wednesdays, Courtney Weaver! Courtney will share some info on the services that WellWVU provides and talk a little about alcohol safety. You won’t want to miss it!

Transcription: 

Welcome back to another episode of Towers Talk. I'm Angela. I’m Patrick. Welcome back to another week. Towers Talk is brought to you by Lyon and Braxton Towers. Towers. You can live anywhere. When you're here, you're home. All right, everybody. So today we are interviewing Courtney Weaver, the director of WellWVU. Courtney also has a podcast called Wellbeing Wednesdays, and it's definitely worth checking out if you haven't already before me.

And before we had our own podcast, TTP, uh, we got our feet wet by hearing on Wellbeing Wednesdays during this past summer. So you should definitely go check it out, but in the meantime, welcome Courtney. Thank you. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. So can you start by sharing with us some more info about your educational and professional background and how you ended up here at WVU.

Sure thing. Um, so originally I'm from the great state of Michigan and. I went to undergrad at Western Michigan University. My bachelor's degrees in psychology. Uh, and then I went to graduate school at Wiener University, which is outside of Philadelphia. Uh, both my Master of Education and my PhD are in human sexuality education.

Um, after, well, technically the last year, my dissertation, I got my first full time professional job at Florida Atlantic university in their office called today and beyond wellness, uh, as a sexual health educator. And I was there. Eight years, uh, started again with sex ed, but moved up to assistant director and associate director and then interim director, uh, then decided to make a life change, uh, last year, last summer, and ended up here at WVU.

And I've been here since August of 2019. So just over a year. Congrats. Yeah. Awesome. Thanks Courtney. So while WVU is an amazing office that provides a lot of great opportunities for our students. Can you give us an overview of just some of the things that you have to offer and maybe some of your most popular programming opportunities?

Oh yeah, for sure. So while the baby is responsible for providing the health education to WVU students, uh, because we want them to be healthy, responsible, and successful. So we focus in three main content areas, which is emotional, mental wellness, substance safety, and sexual health. So some of the services and programs that we do, we do presentations, uh, with COVID.

We do most of them virtually, but we do them in person as well. I did an in-person presentation last week for a class. Uh, and academic classes can request them. Uh, student organizations can also request them. Uh, and then we also have some open sessions this semester for our AOD question and answer sessions and a presentation on coping strategies.

Um, we also do some large scale and small scale events, the large scale events, unfortunately, because of COVID, we've had to sort of rework how those look like. Uh, but in a normal semester, you'd see chill Fest and the sexual health fair and the four 20 panel. Uh, and I'll talk a little bit more about the changes later when we talk about, um, the programming that we have coming up.

Well, we still do our smaller scale tabling events like bartender school, stress management, um, tabling for screen U, which is an online screening tool for substance use. Uh, and then we also do the wellness on wheels program, which is part of the refresh series. We do free health promotion items. So that includes our chill packs, which we have both physically and virtually a condom caravan, which is our free, safer sex supplies.

And there is no charge for those this semester and you can order them online and we do. Pickup twice a week, we offer also do like free sleep masks and water bottles, and really just items that help kickstart those healthy behaviors. We also do health communication campaigns. So actually have a new one out right now that is a combination of AOD and sexual health.

That's basically looking at people. We want people to rethink the relationship between alcohol and sex, uh, that it's quite toxic. So we'd like to keep them separate. Uh, and then we also have some student opportunities. You can volunteer with us with our student wellness ambassador team. We do internships, both undergraduate and graduate.

So if you need something like that and are interested in health education, please reach out to him. We are also those people. Pesky people who are responsible for facilitating that online education module called voices for change that all first year students were assigned. We're also the folks who are responsible for the alcohol refresher, which is the second part of that, which is actually due on Friday, October 23rd, which may be, uh, before this episode is released.

So hopefully you've completed it. If you're a first year student. And then we also, we're pretty active on our social media accounts, Twitter and Instagram, and I recommend you give them a follow, which is just at WellWVU. Wow. Y'all are amazing. And you do so much stuff. You hear that kids free condoms, you get.

Programming you have tons and tons of opportunities. So I'm impressed. Main takeaway was, Hey, that's not for me for the students. That's a, that's a big deal. So I figured out highlight that again for them. Thank you. Thank you, Courtney, for sharing all that. That was awesome. So, um, as we all know, Halloween is coming up though.

It'll be a couple of days after this episode goes live, and we know that all of our students are saints and none of them drink when they're under the age of 21, of course. But if they were over 21 or maybe they were under and. Illegally participating. What safety tips would you have for our students that would choose to consume alcohol in the coming weekends?

Right. Well, yeah, Patrick, I think you said it right. Sometimes our students make choices that are independent of the loss. So, um, if you are. Some say, I'll talk about some safer drinking strategies, but first I want to emphasize, you can make that choice not to drink. Uh, just so you know, nationwide 30% of college students actually choose not to drink alcohol.

And there are lots of other different activities that you can participate on campus if you know, drinking is not your thing. Um, but, and. You just have to make that decision for yourself. Now, if you're going out to a party or to a bar here in Morgan town, we've been saying to practice safe sex, which is remaining six feet apart, um, at all times, and also wearing your mask as often as you can.

So you also want to make sure that you're wearing your mask. Correctly. So covering your nose and your mouth. I've seen so many people walk around with the mask, not covering their nose, uh, and you breathe out your nose. And the whole point is to protect the other person when you're wearing the mask. Um, so we're at correctly.

Now in terms of safer drinking strategies, we actually have a lot of things that you can do. So the first is you want to stick with your friends, still leave with the same group that you have the party with, but also make sure that you're not going out with people who make you feel uncomfortable. You should be feeling good with the people that you're with, um, decide on your limits before you start drinking and then stick to them.

So if you say I'm going to have three drinks tonight, that's going to be it. You make that plan. Stick to that plan. So, you know, what's going to happen. Um, it's really helpful to know the standard drink sizes. So for example, um, a standard size for liquor is 1.5 ounces. Sometimes if someone orders a shot or you give a shot, like.

It's way more than 1.5 ounces. So just be aware of that. A wine is five ounces and then beer is 12 ounces. Now it's important to know this because your liver can only metabolize one standard drink per hour. So it's important that you know, those sizes, um, you want to avoid mixing, uh, like energy drinks and alcohol or caffeine and alcohol just because caffeine is a.

You know, stimulants and alcohol is a depressant and can actually mask the effects of alcohol. And then you may drink more than you should otherwise also alcohol and other drugs. They can have unexpected and unwanted effects. Um, it's important to eat before and while drinking. So this slows the absorption of alcohol in your stomach because fun fact, um, alcohol is one of the few substances that's directly absorbed by your stomach lining.

So having something else in there will slow it down. Which is really good. Now foods high in protein are actually the best, uh, but really like any food we'll do. So grab a slice of pizza before you head out. It's going to do you good. Um, let's see. So you also want to alternate nonalcoholic beverages with alcoholic beverages.

A great option for that is water. Hey, that's really good. You got to stay hydrated, uh, and act because alcohol is also one of the only substances that will turn off your antidiuretic hormone, which means you pee more, uh, which means you dehydrate easier. So keep drinking water. Um, you want to keep an eye on your drink, so don't drink it if it's been left unattended.

So if you left it somewhere, come back a few minutes later, it's best to just toss it out. Cause you don't know what's happened in that period of time. Uh, and then you want to make your own drink or you want to watch who it is. Who's making your drink. Cause they might put more alcohol into it than perhaps you want to drink.

Um, and so that being said, you also want to avoid drinking from like open containers or Punchbowl's, or I don't know if. Students use this anymore, but like jungle juice or things like that, he wants to stay away from that. You also want to make sure you have a plan to get home. So do you have a designated driver and people that's important to know a designated driver should be someone who doesn't drink at all that night?

It's not like the, you know, most sober among us. No, they should not be drinking at all. Um, or are you all gonna use like a ride share program or an app? Um, or can you walk home and it makes sure that you're walking home with someone else that you trust. Um, and then it's also important to know that drinking and engaging in sexual activity is a risky.

The thing to do. So I'll call and make it difficult to like interpret your partner's cues both verbally. And non-verbally it really muddies the waters of consent. You're less likely to use a condom and then actually just makes it more difficult to have sex to begin with because alcohol depresses your central nervous system.

So things won't be as pleasurable. So those, those are our tips. Those are a lot of tips that have a lot. Yeah, but we learned things. Thank you so much, Courtney. So, uh, you know, your wellbeing Wednesday's podcast focus a lot, focuses a lot on self-care and holistic wellbeing. Can you share some tips for students struggling with self-care at this point in the semester?

Sure thing. Um, so this is actually something that the crews that are at us have, have worked on, uh, they've created a really jazzy handout that we will be, we help them with. So I think the first thing to acknowledge is that it's okay to not be okay. Uh, I, I think with this pandemic, we see a lot of. Kind of toxic positivity and like, you have to be okay.

It doesn't matter. It's like, no, it's, this is kind of a terrible situation. It's okay. That we acknowledge that. Um, so we want to just say that it's okay. Um, so feel your feelings. All right. You're they're valid. Uh, and if you need help, like ask for it and get that right support. And I'll talk a little bit more about that in a minute.

Uh, w one thing that really helps me is to laugh. So you can go and look up like TV bloopers on YouTube or something, you know, a quick funny video, and then laughing helps you release some nice chemicals and makes you feel good. Uh, take breaks from social media and then just take breaks from the screen in general.

I mean, if you're an online student you're already like looking at zoom for many hours a day, just shut it down. Uh, and staying off social media is also helpful too. Um, just because. People don't show their whole lives on social media. They just show what they want you to show and it makes it difficult not to compare.

So just maybe just take a break, um, stay connected with your friends and loved ones. Now you couldn't do a virtual meetup, but again, if you're like zoomed out, that's totally understandable. So maybe like, Call them up on the phone, do that old school, you know, before the, the time of FaceTime. Um, but you could also do like small, safer gathering.

So keeping your mask on and keeping physically distant from each other, and it could be that you go outside because our weather knock on wood has been sort of holding out to be really nice. So you can take advantage of nature and maybe meet for a, a physically distant hike with someone, um, and do movement that you enjoy.

So, If you weren't really someone who liked to go to the gym, you know, find something that you do. Like, so maybe there are some online, like yoga videos that you really like to do. Or maybe you just like to go out and walk around your neighborhood or walk around campus, do that because you, you want to look.

Forward to that and not like, Oh, I have to exercise. That's the worst because then you don't want to do it. Uh, and then evaluate your sleep hygiene and see if there's something you can do to improve it. You can be like me. It was like knowingly self-sabotaging her sleep schedule, uh, and not doing anything about it.

I don't recommend that. So try to go to bed at the same time each night, making sure your room is cool and dark, uh, and try to wake up at the same time every morning. Let's see, so get outside and enjoy nature. We already kind of talked about that and then take advantage of what WVU is offering. So if you're finding that you're struggling in your classes, make an appointment for an online tutoring session, um, or use the writing center, which is still the services are still available.

Uh, but then you can also check out all the activities that, uh, WVU is doing. So like refresh@wvu.edu. Is a really great place to see what is going on on campus. And you could do like an online cooking class. That's all in your microwave, for example, or like, you know, uh, uh, crafty or the crafty lumberjack activities are really fun to, um, do some arts and crafts.

So whether that's with the refresh series or just on your own, maybe like to knit, Hey, Knit up, make yourself nine scarves. It's going to be cold soon. You'll get use out of them. Um, eat food that you enjoy. So if you really want that ice cream heck eat that ice cream. It's it makes you feel good. That's awesome.

Um, and then Blake, maybe play video games if that's something that you like. So, you know, for me, I played a lot of animal crossing during this pandemic. It was kind of my saving grace. Um, I got to build a little utopia and that was really nice. Uh, and it kind of helped me forget what was going on in the world around me.

Now there, this list is not exhaustive, obviously there's so many other things that students can do. Um, but those are just a few ideas. Those all sound so much fun. Um, I especially love like, you know, talking about mud cakes or whatever you make in your microwave. I guess, microwave cooking. Um, also, uh, students, you can have a blender.

So fun fact, I made my first smoothie bowl this morning and it was amazing. So maybe try a new hobby or a new food, but the thing that resonated the most with me was the, uh, The self-sabotaging my sleeping schedule. Cause I did the same exact thing. I'm like, ah, tonight's the night, tonight's the night. And then it's one 30 in the morning and I'm like, I have to be up in six hours.

That's uh, shut it down shower right away. You're like grandma and just in bed at nine. So can't relate. Oh man. All right. So that was really awesome. Thank you, Courtney. So, um, What are some of the, uh, you know, as we wind down the rest of this semester, when this episode comes out, we're going to have exactly four weeks left of students.

So what are some exciting events that well, WVU has coming up for students as we finish this semester. All right. So we actually have in November because we can't host chill Fest. Like we normally would, we are going to do our self-care series, which are weekly events. So, um, it's going to be every week in November, starting the first week.

Um, so students will pre-register and basically pick up some activity kits. Uh, so the first one, that first week we're going to do, do it yourself, Zen gardens. And that will be live with our friends in the cruise center, which is really cool. Uh, then the next week, actually, Angela, you probably really like this, cause we're doing a do it yourself, microwave mug cake, and we're even giving yeah.

We're even giving you the mug as long with all the ingredients. And so we're working with. Um, our friends over in dining services and the dietetic interns, they're going to help us do that. Uh, then we're working with campus rec to do a fuel your exercise. So basically we're going to provide you with a pre and post-workout snack, and then they're going to make available some workout videos for us.

And then the last week, which is the week of Thanksgiving in which students are only going to be on campus for that Monday and Tuesday, we'll be handing out, um, healthy hydration. Uh, supplies. So basically a water bottle, some information on hydration, but then also, um, like powdered, I would say like a powdered, like sports drink that you would drink after the workout.

So, um, and then you can still order safer sex supplies through November and the last one. Pick up, uh, for that being the Monday before Thanksgiving. So pick up is on Mondays and Fridays, Mondays, it's the Evansdale campus and Fridays it's the downtown campus. And both of those pickup locations are at the refresh boxes.

And then we'll still be doing wellness on wheels activities, um, through the rest of October and through November. Even though it's cold, but like I said, I'm from Michigan. I'm going to be out there. I'll put on a hat and gloves. I want to be there and give you a free breakfast as you walk to class or a snack in the middle of the afternoon.

So that's what we got going on. And if you want to, um, like learn more about the signup and stuff, I recommend that you follow us on social media, either Twitter or Instagram or both. Um, and which is just at WellWVU. Oh, amazing. That all sounds like so much fun. Thank you. So do you have one piece of advice or words of wisdom that you would like to share with our first-year students here?

I don't know if I have one piece, I have many pieces. Um, so I think the first thing is this isn't normal and this probably isn't how you wanted to start your college career. You've probably, you know, the past few years that you've been in high school. You've probably seen maybe friends or relatives go off to school and you're like, I can't wait for that to be my experience.

And then you get here and it's not your experience because we're in the middle of a pandemic. Um, and so I don't blame you if you're a little bit disappointed in that, but I think there are some really unique things that are happening though. Uh, for first year students one, you basically have. Campus to yourselves that is so rare, like you'll be able to access spaces that would normally be really jam packed full of people.

Because having been here, you know, for at least one fall semester, you can't really move in a lot of parts of campus when everyone is here. So I would say, take advantage of the fact that you're, you're the only ones on campus. Um, there are new types of activities that are being done that were created just for you.

And this year I'm specifically looking at the refresh. Series. And so definitely take advantage of that. All of those activities are free of charge for you. So do it because you're going to learn some cool stuff and you're going to hopefully make some friends as well, and they're still doing in-person activities.

So it's, I would recommend that you sign up for those because they're happening in smaller groups and then actually makes it easier for you to connect with other students and make those, you know, friends that that's something that you're struggling to do. And then services are. Still available. A lot of them are virtual.

Um, but there are still so many professionals here to help you and we want to help you. Um, and so if you need help, all you really have to do is ask for it. So whether that's your RA, your two great RHCs Angela and Patrick, uh, or like another professional on campus, just know that we're here for you and we can be reached in a multitude of ways.

Awesome. Thank you so much. Well, that's a wrap. Thank you for joining us this week. And thank you Courtney for your time today. Tune in next week, when we interview another member of the WVU.