CAPS creates conference to assess NU’s social scene

Jeff Stone

Northwestern’s Counseling and Psychological Services team is going out of its way Saturday to make itself more visible to students.

The school’s first Building Connections Conference plans to address the social climate of the university. The free conference, held on the second floor of Norris University Center, begins at 11:30 a.m. and includes lunch.

Organizers said the event, welcome to all, aims to touch on a wide range of social issues.

“Some students are quite lonely inside,” said Kathy Hollingsworth, director of CAPS. “(NU) is a competitive, high-performance environment.

“This conference is sort of a grass roots movement. It is for interested and concerned students and faculty.”

A team of CAPS counselors and students collaborated on the conference. One goal of the conference is to get students to think actively about building a better sense of community.

“The task force is a group of people who share concerns and want to take action,” Hollingsworth said. “We want to think of ways together to make some changes.”

Task force member David Nyweide said sometimes the problem lies within a person. But some of NU’s policies also hinder the social climate, he said.

“The quarter system allows for little time to form relationships,” said Nyweide, a Weinberg senior. “The conference will let the administration and other students know about this.”

The conference will include large group programs as well as smaller breakout sessions. These will address a range of issues including love, male behavior, family, sexual orientation, communication with professors, employers and other professionals, religion and spirituality, diversity and intercultural communication.

“People have pointed out that Northwestern students need to address these skills and some people need help making it happen,” Nyweide said. “The end result is a more well-rounded campus.”

Relationships have a lot to do with general health, Nyweide said. And all relationships, not just romantic ones, should be addressed.

Ken Papineau, director of health education, said when assessing the health of students he considers the range of relationships in which they engage.

These include relationships with alcohol, drugs and sex.

“So many of these issues have a correlation with relationships, whether they are with the substance or with a person or a family member,” Papineau said.

Hollingsworth said the conference is the beginning of a series of events addressing these issues.

Building Connections Conference

11:30 a.m., Saturday

Norris University Center, second floor

What: Counseling and Psychological Services will assess the school’s social climate

Cost: Free, includes lunch