The Pendulum hosts conversation about student health

The student news organization invited students to discuss a variety of health and wellness issues following the release of its special edition.

In an effort to facilitate open dialogue about health, The Pendulum released its first special edition of 2015, “The Wellness Issue,” on April 8, and hosted a corresponding student-led discussion in The Oak House the same evening that was open to the Elon University community.

Both the edition and event focused on various facets of health and wellness that affect the typical Elon student’s experience. The discussion was hosted by Cameron Jackson, The Pendulum’s public relations director, who collaborated with representatives of other health-focused organizations on campus, such as SPARKS, Active Minds and Elon University Public Health Society.

The goal of the event was to create a space where students could openly talk about taboo health and wellness issues that are important to them. Michael Bodley, editor-in-chief of The Pendulum, said he hoped the edition would stimulate that discussion.

“Especially on a campus as busy and overcommitted as Elon’s is, it can be far too easy to neglect thinking about health and wellness and why it all matters,” Bodley said. “My hope for the Wellness Issue was to get the conversation going—and keep it that way. Little is more important than health, and it should never be a taboo subject.”

The discussion touched upon four parts: mental health, physical health, financial health and sexual health. Representatives from the partnering student organizations presented the discussion questions that best related to the purpose or mission of their organizations. A variety of topics, such as daily fitness routines, student depression and pressures imposed by social media, were referenced.

The format of the discussion was strategically designed to make attendees more comfortable sharing details that could get deeply personal.

“For each question that was asked, we told everyone to first discuss it with whoever was sitting at their table for a couple of minutes,” Jackson said. “Then, we went around the room and openly discussed everyone’s responses. I think this was successful in allowing people to refine their thoughts and reactions first so that they would be more willing to talk about touchy subjects out in the open.”

Among the talkative crowd was Whitney Gregory, director of Health Promotion & Student Concerns Outreach. Gregory was one of many staff members invited to hear student responses and answer any questions about on-campus resources that are available.

Several students were open to sharing their personal journeys of frustration, confusion and recovery in terms of how they have perceived their health and wellness while at Elon. Most attendees were willing to voice their opinions about positive experiences openly, but also changes that they wanted to see on campus.

Although this was The Pendulum’s first on-campus event this semester, the organization hopes to continue to contribute to the intellectual climate and spark discussion in the future.

– by Cameron Jackson ’16