BUBeWell: How Butler’s six colleges are fostering student wellness on campus

CCOM students unwind with a college-sanctioned yoga session. Photo by Erin Earnest.

LEA MARIE JAFFE | STAFF REPORTER | ljaffe@butler.edu

Since 2018, Butler’s BUBeWell program has strived to give students a transformative and holistic college experience. Due to COVID-19, however, the eight-dimension framework of BUBeWell has been challenged. Many events promoting wellness have been canceled, postponed or moved to a virtual setting, including club sports, fitness classes, seminars and workshops. With social distancing and mask-wearing in mind, faculty members are confronted with the task of creating COVID-friendly programs to promote the well-being of their students. 

Amidst the current restrictions, the College of Communication has provided its students with a unique opportunity. On Oct. 1, CCOM kicked off its 2020-21 Wellness event series with evening yoga. The intention behind CCOM’s Wellness event series is to create moments of intentionality surrounding wellness; whether that be a yoga class or simply a lunch-in. 

While all six academic colleges support the wellness of their communities in different ways, CCOM is currently the only college hosting collegiate level wellness-based initiatives. In email statements to The Butler Collegian, the five deans discussed the current situations regarding wellness programmings in their colleges. 

Jay Howard, dean of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said there are currently no wellness initiatives within LAS. Robert Soltis, dean of College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, did not respond in time for this publication. 

Hilary Buttrick, interim dean of Lacy School of Business, said although there are currently no programs scheduled, LSB would be interested in exploring the possibility in the future.  

“To my knowledge, LSB does not have any programs currently scheduled related specifically to wellness, but we would be very interested to learn about the CCOM wellness program to see if there are opportunities to do something similar in our college,” Buttrick said in an email.  

Lisa Brooks, dean of Jordan College of the Arts, said the college’s student mental health organization is currently inactive due to a lack of leadership.

“We have a JCA student mental health organization (an official SGA-approved group) called the ‘It’s OK Society,’” Brooks said in an email. “Last year, the group hosted occasional “stress-less” events (folk dancing, a holiday cookie decorating/coloring/ornament making party, etc.). This year, we are suffering from a lack of leadership, so the organization is momentarily inactive. It is my fervent hope that we will be able to reorganize sometime soon.”

Brooke Kandel-Cisco, dean of College of Education, emphasized how the college’s dedication to the BUBeWell framework is implemented into their curriculum.

“For example, as future educators, COE students learn about the connections between mind and body and how our brain state impacts our ability to teach and learn,” Kandel-Cisco said in an email. “Through intentional coursework and other opportunities, we are working to ensure our students understand their own identities and how their experiences shape the way they see the world and others around them. We know that an anti-racist and identity-affirming environment is a key component in the health of our community.”

From chair yoga to meditation, there will be more opportunities for the CCOM community to engage in future wellness-based events.

Meghan Fogler, a wellness advocate and yoga instructor, led CCOM faculty and students in the hour-long yoga practice on Oct. 1. Fogler said she believes implementing yoga into one’s life, especially during these times, will bring alignment in a multitude of ways.  

“Yoga will benefit your mental, emotional, physical and social well-being in ways you did not think possible,” Fogler said. “You don’t have to be doing fancy headstands to do yoga. As long as you are aware of what you’re doing in that moment, with that breath — that is you doing yoga.” 

Ben Schultz, a first-year sports media major, said he was happy to hear about CCOM’s efforts to advocate for their students’ health.

“Since there is not too much going on around campus, really any event that gets us out of the dorms and moving sounds great,” Schultz said. “More than anything, I was happy to see that they care.”

Shultz added that while his physical health improved during quarantine, his mental health definitely took a toll. 

“Honestly, there was a time where I didn’t really want to do anything,” Schultz said. “I’d say everyone was like that for a while at least, because there wasn’t much going on.”

From the lack of social interaction to the closure of health facilities, maintaining physical and mental wellness during the pandemic has been a challenge for many students.

Katie Suder, a first-year strategic communication major, explained her appreciation for CCOM’s new wellness events.

 “I was surprised and excited about it because it gives us something to finally do on campus and get involved,” Suder said. “It is a great way to meet new people and have a chance to get outside.” 

‘16 CCOM alumnus and new media specialist Evan Krauss said he was very pleased to see CCOM’s continuous dedication to their students’ well-being.

“This is exactly what I experienced when I was a student and I’m glad that the College of Communication is still offering these opportunities, even in this weird time,” Krauss said. “It’s caring more about the students’ wellness as a whole, not just as a student of academia, but a student of life.”

On Dec. 19, 2019, CCOM hosted their first wellness-based event a wellness lunch. While CCOM attempted to host wellness-based events throughout the 2019-2020 school year each semester, COVID-19 had different plans. Brooke Barnett, the dean of CCOM, explained the initial intentions behind the events.

“We were really trying to figure out how to create moments of intentionality around well-being and wellness,” Barnett said. “In the current moment with COVID, that means having a variety of in-person and virtual opportunities because we also have fully remote learners and people who are at different levels of comfort surrounding safety and being around others.”

 The current events target two areas of wellness, “diversity and inclusion” and “mind and body.” While these concepts may seem different in nature, Barnett explained how they work together to benefit the CCOM community. 

“We were saying these are two kind of important things that should be part of students’ lives and part of the way we do business in the College of Communication,” Barnett said.

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