An Empowering and Quirky Community Squad

By: Allison Michelle Bradford

Acceptance and community is important on any University Campus, and this year an organization has been created to display just that―The Community Squad. Called The Comm Squad for short, this organization will begin with fifteen students who wish to make a difference in the Southwestern community by promoting wellness, safety, unity and a celebratory culture, as stated in an email sent out to those interested in joining.

The Comm Squad has already reached out to potential candidates. Those interested received an application form where they were asked to answer a few questions about themselves, as well as ideas they have for the Comm Squad. These students are going to be the foundation and set the tone for the Comm Squad in later years. Having applied for the Comm Squad myself, I was excited with the amount of trust already put into those planning to help make a difference and set the base for this new organization on campus. It is going to be a lot to uphold, but truly worthwhile for anyone looking to join.

I’m not the only one excited for this new organization on campus.

“I was initially surprised and found it intriguing that there could be a group of students on campus interested in forming community and making that more apparent,” Sophomore B.G. Leadbetter said. “At a university of diversity, we need that communal atmosphere as we often lose sight that although we are all different, we are all Southwestern.”

Next on my adventure, I had the honour of interviewing Ms. Liz Colvin, who is working alongside Shelley Story, the Dean of Students, in creating this ambitious organization.

At the start of the interview I asked Ms. Colvin what made them decide to create the Comm Squad, and if any particular event triggered this desire.

“The Comm squad was developed out of several different needs, Dean Story and I have both been here about a year,” Colvin said. “And just saw that a lot of our work had this need for there to be a student group interested in promoting community and healthy life styles on campus.”

While there was no specific event that brought the Comm Squad into existence, Ms. Colvin touched on an important aspect of the Comm Squad, the Bystander Intervention Program.

“Research shows that peer to peer interactions are more effective when that education is coming from students,” Colvin said. Essentially, when it comes to certain aspects of education, a student group to teach those aspects is very much needed.

When describing the Comm Squad in one word, she first chose “empowering,” and then pausing for a second, added “quirky.”

She feels it is empowering because Comm Squad is going to “be a place where everyone has responsibility, feels valued, welcome, and safe,” and quirky because Comm Squad “is going to have sort of a low-key, funky feel, where we don’t know just how much this will ripple and affect students”.

In the end Ms. Colvin and Dean Story share the same hope: “That the Comm Squad initiative will reach every student on campus, in some way, shape, or form.” A powerful, yet achievable, ambition for this new organization.