Letter to the Editor: Student Photos & Voices on Campus Issues: Mental Health, Careers, Commuters, and Community

Dear Editor,

As part of this semester’s PSYC 3330-01 Community Psychology class, we completed Participatory Action Research (PAR) Photovoice projects focusing on campus issues we identified as important for the well-being and experience of students at the University of New Haven. Photovoice is an evidence-based practice of PAR that engages community members in research with the goal of advocating for social change. We identified four topics and worked in teams to take photos relevant to our issues, develop narratives of those photos, and make recommendations for action. Below are brief descriptions of each groups’ topic and links to our final products.

The Career Development Center (CDC) is the launching pad of our futures. However, it gets lost among other resources on campus. In our research, we have been able to shine a light onto the missteps of this once triumphant resource to fulfill the needs of not only the students, but also CDC staff. Stuffed into part of a small building among the chaos of the Bixler/Gerber Quad, the CDC lies desolate in the center of campus. If you are interested in students’ perspectives of the CDC, please visit our website: https://neon38.wixsite.com/my-site.

Adequate mental health services on college campuses should be required nationwide. On our campus, we have found that our mental health awareness and services are lacking. We identified areas that need improvement and developed some ideas of how to resolve these issues, including: relocating CAPS to a more convenient location, providing more accessible resources and increasing mental health awareness on campus overall. Here is the link to our blog to learn more about our findings: https://communitypsycholog5.wixsite.com/communitypsych

Sense of community is a concept that centers around feelings of belonging and membership by members of a community. Our group observed different campus locations and programs, and surveyed a small sample of the student population, in order to understand students’ perceptions of the sense of community at the university. We found that students prefer more collaborative and social spaces, desire better programing and advertising of programs and suggest increased efforts to include commuter students. Here is the link to our video to learn more:

We are a commuter-heavy school, but commuter engagement remains an important issue that lacks proper attention within the university. From empty commuter lounges to hidden commuter event posters, it is difficult for commuter students to become involved in campus activities. However, the true cause of the issue is unclear as both a lack of opportunities and a lack of advertisement for opportunities may contribute. To raise awareness of this issue, we created a PowerPoint with pictures that was shared with the Commuter Senator.
Commuter Student Involvement

We hope these brief descriptions and links to our projects increase awareness of these issues across the university and initiate action to create change and improve the lives of all our students.

Thank you,

The PSYC 3330-01 Community Psychology Class [Jessica Alestock, Selena Aponte, Delaney Archer, Aidan Berman, Daniela Cassano, Emma Dombrowski, Paige Garrett, Skilyn Gay, Julia Guarniere, Bethany Konel, Audrey Larson, Melissa Liriano, Kevin McNiff, Michelle Nogaj, Ketyann Salem-Rosario, Sarah Smith, Rob Taylor, Ariana Weinstein, & Dr. Whitson]