SOS workshops help students in academics, life

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Students log on to Zoom every week to participate and engage in the variety of presentations offered as Secrets of Success, or SOS workshops. These are designed to help students be successful in the classroom and beyond, according to Brenda Bassi, academic success coordinator in the Academic Success Center and coordinator of the SOS workshops. 

“We want students to be able to walk away with something that they can apply in their coursework, and in some cases, outside of the class[room] even but especially in the classes… our thing is that we are here to help students to be successful,” Bassi said. “That’s our goal.”

The majority of presenters for the workshops consist of the University of Indianapolis’ faculty and staff, Bassi said, and partner with departments such as ProEdge and the Writing Lab to provide information on skills for the classroom. However, Bassi said she also brings in outside sources, like Fifth Third Bank and H&R Block,
in order to create workshops that cover life skills as well.

Prior to COVID-19, the workshops were held in person in Schwitzer 010, Bassi said, but they are currently conducted virtually with required interaction from students. Despite the virtual format, engagement numbers have increased for the workshops since the start of the pandemic, according to Bassi.

“So far, the numbers are looking good for this semester, but it was just more convenient for them [students] to connect that way to participate, attend if it was virtual, but because of the room situation, we decided let’s do it virtual again and see if something works out next semester.”

Senior Associate Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator Jessica Ward has been the presenter for several SOS workshops. Her presentations have involved different topics covering Title IX issues, such as consent, communication, healthy relationships and being a bystander, according to Ward. Ward said her presentations for the workshops tend to garner larger participation and engagement numbers.

“I got here not long before COVID[-19] happened. And we literally were having to turn people away because it was so full it became a fire hazard . . . .” Ward said. “Whereas I think when I did ‘Sex is Like Pizza’ during COVID[-19], I mean, we had what, 200 people . . . it was a big one. And people were actually engaged in this. The staff here do an amazing job, Miss Brenda [Bassi] and her student workers. And if people are not engaged, they kick them out. So you’re not just getting credit for doing nothing; you have to be engaged.”

Bassi said the workshops are primarily aimed at freshman students, but anyone is able to attend and participate to gain LP credits. According to Ward, these workshops are a great way to meet the federal requirement for Title IX education and inform freshmen of these topics.

“It really works out great because it’s something that’s open for all students . . . and all freshmen students especially because generally if we have, not always but a lot of times when we have issues with Title IX, a lot of times it can be freshmen students because they’ve just gotten here and they don’t understand the rules of life,”
Ward said. “So I really try to hit them. But what I found is it’s not just freshmen coming to my presentations, it’s kind of across the board. Maybe I’ve made a reputation for myself.”

According to Bassi, it is recommended that students attend the workshops because she feels students can always learn and take away something from the presentations.

“I would love for all of our students to come to at least one workshop to see what it’s like for themselves . . . ,” Bassi said. “Hopefully, they can find at least one that they might be interested in and attend just to see what they think for themselves.” 

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