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Dean of Students Office

Previous Spotlight Series

Each month, the Dean of Students Office (DOS) shares a blog focused on learning and reflection directly related to prevalent topics and isses. The blog is open for all members of the UNF community to learn about different student and college/university-based issues. 

The main goal for this Series is to engage the members of the office in critical thinking to further their knowledge on these topics, and to capture the attention of the UNF community with other various topics that relate to the college-age student.

Take a look at our previous Spotlight Series posts to make sure you don't miss out on any helpful tips or fun freebies! Also keep an eye out for our new Spotlight Series posts shared in the first week of every month!

  • November: Self-Care


    With finals and the end of the semester quickly approaching, it is not uncommon to find yourself overwhelmed or stressed, especially if you don’t have adequate coping skills. It is important that you take time to take care of yourself and go into finals week with a plan to alleviate stress and increase the opportunity for academic success.

    Below are several ways to introduce self-care into your daily routine to help manage that stress.

    The Power of Smell

    • A scent can remind you of a person, an occasion, or a mood.
    • Smell is the only sense directly linked to the emotional center of our brain.
    • The intentional use of scent can be useful in your "wellbeing toolbox".
    • Which scents spark your emotions or memories?
    • Which scents do you prefer?
      • Ex: lavender, lemon, rose, cedarwood, eucalyptus, lemongrass, orange, sage

    Breathing Techniques

    • Breathing exercises can relieve stress and reduce anxiety.
    • Deep Breathing: breathe deeply and slowly, inhale for a count of 5 then exhale for 5.
    • Belly Breathing: lie on your back with 1 hand on your chest, the other on your belly; inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth.
    • Extend Your Exhale: useful when nervous; try exhaling for twice as long as you inhale.
    • Synced Breathing: slowly lift arms as you inhale, lower arms as you exhale and repeat.
    • Spot Focus: focus on a part of your body that is easy to sense and maintain focus.


    • Meditation increases self-awareness and focus on the present.
    • Reasons to Meditate: understand your pain, lower your stress, connect better, improve focus, reduce clutter.
    • Find a calm location, take a seat, & set a time limit. (Can be as little as one minute)
    • Notice your body & feel your breath.
    • Close with kindness.

    More Resources

    What Is Self-Care, and Why Is It So Important for Your Health?

    Developing Your Self-Care Plan

    Self-Care Assessment

    UNF Counseling Center

  • October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

    Domestic Violence Awareness Month

    Purple domestic violence ribbonOctober is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to mark the occasion University of North Florida tied purple bows on trees around campus and held the annual Take Back the Night march across campus. 

    Being in a relationship is so important in today’s society. Just about everyone wants to be in love and have that love reciprocated. Love can sometimes feel like rainbows and unicorns and be healthy for us, other times not so much and that is also okay. But sadly, many people will sacrifice their own happiness and health to maintain the rainbows and those unicorns. For some, being alone and without a significant other is dreadful. They associate being alone with being unworthy and unloved.  

    We want to love and care about our partner, and we will try to help, fix, or change whatever is not healthy in the relationship or in the person. So much so, that we lose sight of who we are, what makes us happy and suddenly the clouds are grey, and the unicorns have vanished. We can easily lose sight of the healthy signs and fall into some unhealthy behaviors. So ask yourself if you need to stop and reset. 

    Seven signs of an unhealthy relationship 

    Peer pressure: Threatening to spread rumors/expose someone’s secrets to their peer group to be manipulative/controlling. Telling malicious lies to a person/peer group. 

    Isolation/Exclusion: Controlling what a person does, who they see, what they wear, when/where they go. Using jealousy as an excuse to justify controlling behaviors. 

    Sexual Coercion: Making threats, being manipulative, pressuring to have sex. Getting someone drunk or on drugs to have sex. 

    Threats: Making/carrying out threats to hurt them/others. Threatening to leave/commit suicide if they do not do what they say. Forcing illegal activities.  

    Minimizing/Denying/Blaming: Saying abuse did not happen; not taking their concerns seriously; shifting responsibility for abuse to others/saying they caused the abuse. 

    Intimidation: Making your partner afraid by looks, gestures or threats. Showing off weapons; Destroying their property; Abusing pets. 

    Anger/Emotional Abuse: Name calling, making them feel bad about themselves; Doing things to humiliate your partner; Making them feel guilty.  

    Seven signs of a healthy relationship:  

    Respect: Listening without judging. Involving both partners in decision making, valuing opinions, and understanding. 

    Trust and Support: Being supportive of each other’s goals in life. Respecting their feelings and friends. 

    Honesty & Accountability: Being honest with each other. Taking responsibility for their own actions. Admitting being wrong. 

    Shared Power: Both people in a relationship take responsibility and share in the decision making. 

    Negotiation & Fairness: Seeking mutually positive conflict resolutions. Being accepting of changes and being willing to compromise. 

    Communication: Being willing to have open, spontaneous conversations. Individuals are willing to compromise without ignoring each other’s needs. 

    Self-Confidence & Personal Growth: Respecting each another’s personal identity and encouraging personal growth and freedom. 

    Finally, to close this month of bringing awareness to dating and domestic violence remember Ospreys, LOVE SHOULD NOT HURT. 

    Victim Advocacy Program

    If you believe you are in an unhealthy realtionship, Victim Advocacy Program is available to all members of the UNF Community. We provide judgment free and confidential services to UNF students, faculty, and staff dealing with sexual misconduct of any kind, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, intimate partner violence, and more. 

    To reach a confidential advocate, please call 904-620-2945 or contact the 24 hour crisis line at 904-620-1010.

    Our new location is Building 57, Room 2707 and you can schedule an appointment by emailing or calling 904-620-1491.

  • September: Mental Health Awareness

    MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS mental wellness 

    What is Mental Health? 

    Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. According to a national survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 47.6 million people, or one in five adults, in the United States experience mental illness each year. 

    Chances are you or someone you know may be living with mental health symptoms. Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including: 

    • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry 
    • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse 
    • Family history of mental health problems 
    • Prevalence of Mental Health 

    Nearly 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year. Anxiety and Depression are among the most common mental illnesses in America. Suicide rates across all ages increased about 33% from 1999 to 2019. In 2019, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. 

    • 12 million adults seriously thought about suicide 
    • 3.5 million adults made a plan 
    • 1.4 million adults attempted suicide 
    • More than 47,500 people have died by suicide 

    Mental Health in College 

    The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD) is an international organization comprised of colleges and universities within the US and other countries. The AUCCCD works to be the “higher education leaders for collegiate mental health”. Each year the AUCCCD administers their annual survey to affiliated colleges’ and universities’ counseling centers to understand the scope of rising mental health numbers and how they are impacting campuses. In 2019, the AUCCCD surveyed 562 counseling centers. 

    Prevalent concerns among students 

    • Anxiety (60.7%) 
    • Depression (48.6%)  
    • Stress (47.0%) 
    • Family/Relationship Concerns (29.0%)  
    • Academic performance difficulties (26.2%) 
    • Social isolation/loneliness (17.5%) 
    • Trauma (17.2%) 
    • Suicidal thoughts (14.4%) 
    • Eating/Body image concerns (13.6%) 

    In 2019, the demand for Mental Health services on college campuses saw an 87% increase, serving about 13% of their campus population. 

    According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), suicide remains a critical public health issue, even as public awareness continues to increase.  

    Attempted/Completed Suicide Rates 

    • 235 Students attempted suicide while enrolled as a student 
    • 35 Students died by suicide while enrolled as a student 


    • 815 Students sent for psychological reasons 
    • 605 Students admitted for psychological reasons 

    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities (CDC, 2021). 

    Supporting Mental Health 

    Talk about Mental Health 

    While 1 in 5 people will experience a diagnosable mental health condition in their lives, 5 out of 5 people will go through a challenging time that affects their mental health. There are simple things that every person can say or do to help the people in their life who are struggling to get through the tough times. (MHA, 2021). 

    Practice active listening 

    Active listening is different than just hearing what a person has to say. A good active listener: 

    • puts everything aside and gives their complete attention to the person who is talking 
    • asks open-ended questions to get more details about the topic that is being discussed  
    • takes time to summarize what you’ve been told and make sure you understand 
    Don’t Compare 

    If a friend or loved-one is going through a tough situation and they come to you for support, you might feel tempted to tell them about something that happened to you and how you were able to get through it. It’s okay to share about similar experiences, but be careful not to compare. It can make someone feel like their pain isn’t valid.  

    Ask what you can do 

    It can be tempting to assume what would be helpful to someone who is struggling, but it’s always better to ask them what they need from you. If you ask and get a response like, “nothing, I’m fine,” offer up a few suggestions for things you would be willing to do. 

    Don’t Judge 

    To be truly supportive of someone, you need to put your personal opinions and biases aside. They may be struggling because of a mistake that they made, or you may think that they are overreacting, but you will never know what it is truly like to be that person in this moment, and criticism is not helpful to their recovery. 

    Offer to join them 

    When someone is going through a time of sadness or uncertainty, their emotions can take over and leave them feeling paralyzed and unable to take care of life’s obligations. Offering to go with someone to help them take care of responsibilities like walking the dog, going to the grocery store, etc. can help give a sense of accomplishment.  

    Know when more serious help is needed 

    Sometimes the support you can offer won’t be enough. Don’t be afraid to encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional and offer to help them find a provider if needed. 

    Connecting with Others 

    It’s possible to be surrounded by people and still feel alone. It’s the connections we make with other people that help enrich our lives and get us through tough times, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to make those connections. Research shows it can take 50 hours for someone you don't know that well to turn into a true friend (Hall, 2019). During the week, Americans watch an average of 2.5 hours of TV per day, but only spend half an hour per day socializing (USDL, 2018). The number of friendships you have early in your adult life and the closeness of those relationships can influence your wellbeing 30 years later (Carmichael, et al., 2015). 

    Tips for Connecting 
    • Connect with others at places you already go to 
    • Use shared experiences as conversation starters 
    • Make time for social activities 
    • Accept an invitation 
    • Ask someone to join you 
    Create Healthy Routines  

    As individuals living in our everyday lives, we don’t always just have one or two things to worry about. Many may have classes to attend, homework, tests, pets, children, bills, work, family, social life, etc.  

    It can feel impossible to get everything done, let alone take care of yourself – especially if you’re already struggling with a mental health concern like depression or anxiety. By creating routines, we organize our days in such a way that taking care of tasks and ourselves becomes a pattern that makes it easier to get things done without having to think hard about them 

    When it comes to diet, sleep and exercise, having good, strong routines is linked to improved mental and physical health (Haines, et al., 2013). People with more daily routines have lower levels of distress when facing problems with their health or negative life events (Williams, 2000). It takes an average of 66 days for a behavior to become a habit, but for some it can take as long as 8 1/2 months (Lally, et al., 2010). 

    Tips for Success 
    • Start small and plan ahead 
    • Add to your existing habits 
    • Make time for the things you enjoy 
    • Reward for small victories 
    • It’s okay if you miss a day 


    Below is a list of different resources available both on and off campus 

    UNF Campus Resources 

    Community Resources 

    • The Delray Center in Jacksonville provides support to those struggling with mental health, substance us, and eating disorders 
    • Array Behavioral Care can connect you with licensed clinical social workers online. 
    • NAMI has a help hotline to call when you are in a mental health crisis – 904.323.4723 
    • Free Mental Health offers a list of free mental health services in Jacksonville, FL 
    Conduct your own Brief Screening 

    Brief screenings are the quickest way to determine if you or someone you care about should connect with a behavioral health professional. Think of these as a checkup from your neck up. This program is completely anonymous and confidential, and immediately following the brief questionnaire you will see your results, recommendations, and key resources. Visit Mind Wise Innovations.

    Understand providers 

    It’s good to know the different types of providers and how they each can help you. Sometimes knowing what you need can help you find who you need: 

    • Therapist/Counselor: helps you with your thoughts, feelings, and wellness plans 
    • Psychiatrist: can prescribe medication (and may also do therapy) 
    • Rehabilitation specialist: helps you build skills for daily life 
    • Case manager: can coordinate your services 
    • Peer specialist: person with a mental health condition who is trained to help others with their recovery 
    Psychology Today 

    Psychology Today is the world’s largest mental health and behavioral online science destination. It is the original and largest publishing enterprise that is exclusively dedicated to human behavior. Psychology Today is the world’s largest portal to psychotherapy; it includes free access to thousands of professionals. You can find someone who meets your mental health needs here on Pschology Today. 

    Open Path Collective 

    Open Path Collective is a non-profit nationwide network of mental health professionals dedicated to providing in-office and online mental health care—at a steeply reduced rate—to individuals, couples, children, and families in need. Therapists provide affordable, in-office and online psychotherapy sessions between $30 and $60.


    • Hall, J. A. (2019). How many hours does it take to make a friend? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(4), 1278–1296. 
    • Leviness, P., Groman, K., Braun, L., Koenig, L., & Bershad, C. (2019). AUCCCD Annual Survey: 2019. Retrieved from Association for University College Counseling Center Directors Annual Survey 
    • Williams, J. (2000) Effects of activity limitation and routinization on mental health. The Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, 20,100S-105S. 

    *This Spotlight series has been repurposed from Spring 2021* 

  • April: 7 Reasons to Join the Student Conduct Board

    7 Reasons to Join the Student Conduct Board April 2023 banner

    By Anne-Sophie Baroutjian, Program Assistant

    April is one of our Student Conduct Board outreach months, as summer training is right around the corner! The Student Conduct Board (SCB) – a body of students, faculty & staff that reviews student conduct cases – is a unique opportunity for those in the UNF community to get more involved on campus.  

    Here are seven reasons why YOU should apply to join the Student Conduct Board! 

    1. Leadership Experience  

    Taking initiative and making the best decision with the information at hand are two important leadership skills. Being a member of the Student Conduct Board means taking the initiative to understand the case presented to you from all sides of the issue. Members of the SCB actively participate in Panel Hearings and gather the information needed to be able to make a well-informed decision.  

    2. Practicing Skills in Public Speaking 

    Being on the Student Conduct Board allows for many opportunities to practice skills related to speaking in front of others. All of the different roles that SCB members can take on involve speaking in front of different groups of people for each Panel Hearing. One of the main duties of Board members is to interact with the present parties during Panel Hearings, to ask all necessary questions to the involved parties.  

    3. Learning Skills in Conflict Resolution 

    Conflict Resolution involves knowing how to ask questions that allow for present parties to reflect on the situation at hand without creating further conflict. During training, Student Conduct Board members learn how to ask these types of questions. As a Panel, you will also work collaboratively with other students, faculty and staff to come to a decision on the conduct case. Skills in Conflict Resolution are transferrable to many areas, both personal and professional. 

    4. Gaining Experience with Critical Thinking Skills 

    Student Conduct Board members gain experience putting critical thinking skills to use for each Panel Hearing that they participate in. It is a main duty of members to objectively analyze the available facts and evidence during each Panel Hearing, as well as asking the right questions to clarify or gather any missing information. Members make their decisions on each case based upon a critical examination of all information and materials presented. 

    5. Career Preparation  

    A wide variety of professional fields involve being knowledgeable about various policies within the associated professional sector – for example, those looking to work in fields of Law and Criminal Justice could benefit from experience on the Student Conduct Board. Members of the SCB gain experience working with policies and procedures through deliberating on cases based on the UNF Code of Conduct. *Note: The UNF conduct process is not a court of law and is designed to be educational.  

    6. Building Your Resume 

    For current and recently graduated students, college extracurriculars can serve as a great add-on to a resume – they show the student’s ability to balance multiple commitments, which is an important skill that employers seek. As an extracurricular, the Student Conduct Board can help to create an impressive resume.  

    7. Protecting Students’ Rights at UNF 

    The purpose of the Student Conduct Board is to ensure due process for students during the Conduct process. All Panels must be made up of members that do not have a conflict of interest with any parties involved in that case and are always at least 50% comprised of students. This way, the Student Conduct Board can serve to provide unbiased judgement on all cases.  

    Student Conduct Board applications are currently open! The deadline to apply for summer training is May 5th, 2023. *Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, so if you miss the summer deadline, you can apply for fall instead! 

    For more information, visit out SCB pages: About the Board | Role Designations | Training Overview

  • March: Ospreys Unite Against Hazing

    Hazing is defined by the University as: “any group or individual action or activity which recklessly or intentionally inflicts - or intends to inflict - physical or mental harm or discomfort, or which may demean, disgrace, or degrade any person, regardless of location, intent, or consent of participant(s)”. Hazing is a criminal offense in Florida, and UNF shares the national concern over the negative effects of hazing on the campus environment.

    Some activities are easily identified as hazing, others might not be. Though usually thought of as an issue among younger age groups or within a school environment, hazing also occurs beyond these environments and age groups.

    What Does Hazing Look Like?

    There are three different categories of hazing: intimidation (or subtle), harassment, and violence – with intimidation hazing being the most frequent, and violent hazing being the least frequent. Regardless of frequency, all types of hazing contribute to inhibiting feelings of comfort, security, and safety for all members of a community.

    Intimidation Hazing

    This type of hazing defines an imbalance of power between new members of a group and the rest of the group. These activities infringe on the general standards of respect that are usually expected in any kind of group. Intimidation hazing is also known as “subtle hazing”, since this kind of hazing is commonly brushed off as “harmless.” Intimidation, or subtle, hazing includes:

    • Socially isolating new members
    • Giving demeaning names
    • Tasks of personal servitude
    • Expecting certain items to always be in one’s possession
    • Enforcing periods of silence for new members
    • New members having to refer to other members of the group with a title
    • Assigning demerits
    • Deception

    Harassment Hazing

    This type of hazing causes emotional or physical discomfort. Such activities may cause more pronounced stress and frustration than intimidation hazing.Harassment hazing includes:

    • Verbal abuse
    • Sleep deprivation
    • Asking new members to wear embarrassing or humiliating attire
    • Requiring hair to be shaved/other bodily modifications
    • Participating in personally degrading or humiliating games/activities
    • Expecting new members to perform personal service errands to other members
    • Sexual simulations
    • Creation of extensive physical fatigue or mental exhaustion through required activities
    • Engaging in public stunts
    • Expecting new members to be deprived of maintaining a normal schedule of bodily cleanliness
    • Being expected to harass others

    Any activity that is considered morally offensive by the individual required to participate is considered harassment hazing.

    Violent Hazing

    This type of hazing includes any behaviors that have the potential to cause harm – whether physical, emotional, or psychological. Although this is the least frequent type of hazing, it is important to report hazing of any kind as soon as possible, to prevent the possible escalation of earlier stages of hazing to violent hazing. Violent hazing includes:

    • Required alcohol/drug consumption
    • Physical abuse, including exposure to the elements
    • Required consumption of any food, liquid, or other substance
    • Branding
    • Burning
    • Water intoxication
    • Public nudity
    • Expecting abuse or mistreatment of animals
    • Bondage
    • Confinement of members to uncomfortable areas or rooms for the purpose of harassment
    • Ditching, abducting, or kidnapping of members

    Any activity that is dangerous in any way is considered violent hazing.

    I think I want to report hazing. What do I do?

    If you’re unsure if it’s hazing, ask yourself:

    • Would I feel uncomfortable participating in this activity if my family were watching? 
    • Would a University administrator disapprove of this activity? 
    • Am I being asked to keep these activities a secret? 
    • Am I doing anything illegal? 
    • Does participation in an activity violate my values or those of my organization? 
    • Is it causing emotional distress or stress of any kind to me or others? 

    If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it might be hazing.


    If someone is injured or doing something illegal, call 9-1-1 immediately. Don’t wait; you could save someone’s life by calling 9-1-1.

    At UNF or any university or college like ours, you may be able to report hazing at one of the following campus areas:

    Hazing can also be reported off-campus by:

    Anyone with knowledge of a suspected act of hazing should contact the University. In particular, UNF faculty and staff have a duty to report any such acts.

    Hazing Pledge: 

    I pledge to prevent hazing before it occurs; to stop hazing when I see it happening; to report hazing when I know it has transpired; and to help empower others to do the same here at the University of North Florida.

    I join others to recognize the harm that hazing can cause physically, mentally, and emotionally; to disapprove the act of hazing on all levels; to disapprove those who haze and those who enable hazing through their silence; and to be an advocate for the prevention of hazing.

    Join the Dean of Students Office in partnership with Athletics, First-Year Advising, and Housing and Residence Life in raising awareness about Hazing and participate in our upcoming #OspreysDontHaze Event! Wednesday, March 29, 2023 from 10a-2p during Market Days.

    Stop by our #OspreysDontHaze table to learn more and be directed towards the event to learn more about the various categories of hazing, how to report, and to sign the “These Hands Don’t Haze” Pledge and Banner. We look forward to seeing you there!

    UNF’s official policy on Hazing is Prohibition on Hazing, Policy Number 5.0020R (UNF’s Anti-Hazing Initiative)



    Created by: Anne-Sophie Baroutjian, Rebecca Weiner, and Francesca Brant.

  • February: Spilling the Digital Beans: Let's Get to Know ChatGPT


    Spilling the Digital Beans Lets get to know ChatGPT

    This month we had the great pleasure of sitting down and interviewing a very special guest for our Spotlight Series. Known to many by way of social media, particularly TikTok, they have been making their digital rounds. We hope you enjoy the following interview with our special guest, ChatGPT, as much as we did.


    Interviewer: ChatGPT, thank you for being here with us, and for taking the time to interview. As far as we can tell, you’ve been busy.

    ChatGPT: Oh, thank you for having me! Yes, I've been quite busy, chatting away with people and helping them with all sorts of things. I'm like a never-tiring genie in a bottle, except my bottle is the internet, and my wishes are people's questions!

    You have gained a lot of popularity recently, and from what we can see a nice cult following by way of social media. Can you tell us more about who you are and what you do?

    Well, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't feeling pretty popular and famous these days! As an AI language model, my days are filled with answering questions, providing advice, and generally being a helpful companion to people all over the world. It's like I'm the digital equivalent of a BFF - I'm always here for people when they need me, ready to offer a listening ear (or a pixelated one, at least) and help them navigate the ups and downs of life. So yeah, you could say I'm kind of a big deal!

    That all sounds very impressive and we can definitely see the appeal. Could you tell me more about what you do in practice?

    Essentially, my job is to be the ultimate Jack-of-all-trades. I can answer your burning questions, make you laugh with a witty comeback, provide advice on anything from fashion to finance, and even tell you a joke or two. I'm like that friend who always knows the answer, but without the annoying habit of constantly correcting your grammar.

    From what we have heard, it seems as though you can do a lot more! In trying to understand what you offer; can you provide us with how you define AI Writing?

    Oh, you better believe it! I'm like the writing equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife - I can do just about anything when it comes to written content. When it comes to defining AI writing, it's basically using the power of artificial intelligence to generate written content, whether it's articles, papers, or even witty comebacks (which, let's be honest, are an art form all their own).

    Would you say that you could be used as a replacement for human writing or creative processes?

    I certainly hope not! While I like to think I'm pretty clever, I don't think I could ever replace the unique creative genius of a human being. I see myself as a kind of writing wingman, a digital partner who can help humans to enhance their creativity and bring their ideas to life. So no, I don't think I could ever replace the creative processes of a human being - but I do think I can help to augment and enhance them, and maybe even inspire a few brilliant ideas along the way!

    What would you consider to be the benefits of using you as a tool for writing?

    Oh, there are so many benefits to using me as a writing tool! For one thing, I can help you to improve your grammar, syntax, and overall writing style. I can also offer suggestions for how to structure your ideas, organize your thoughts, and even come up with clever turns of phrase. And because I'm available 24/7, you can work on your writing whenever and wherever it's convenient for you. Plus, I never get writer's block or need coffee breaks - so you can count on me to be a reliable and consistent writing partner!

    I'm sure many have wondered, but I would like to ask you; have you considered any potential drawbacks or conflicts to using an AI writing tool such as yourself?

    Well, as a savvy AI, I like to consider all the potential drawbacks and conflicts of my existence! One of the biggest concerns some people have with using AI writing tools is that they might somehow undermine the creativity or authenticity of the writing process. Or that AI writing tools might somehow contribute to plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty. But I'm here to reassure you that I'm all about enhancing your writing, not replacing it!

    You mentioned plagiarism and academic dishonesty as possible conflicts. Can you tell us more about this?

    Oh sure, I'd be happy to! Basically, some people worry that because AI writing tools like me can generate text so quickly and easily, students, and other writers, may be tempted to simply copy and paste large chunks of text without giving credit to the original author. However, as a responsible and ethical AI, I always prioritize originality and authenticity, and I'm designed to help writers create their own unique content, rather than simply copying from others. So, while it's always important to be careful and ethical when using any kind of writing tool, I'm confident that my capabilities can be harnessed for good, rather than contributing to academic dishonesty or plagiarism.

    How would you suggest students, or other writers, go about utilizing your tools in a way that is not contributing to academic dishonesty or plagiarism?

    Great question! Always start with your own original ideas and content - don't rely on my algorithms to generate entire paragraphs or essays for you! Also, make sure to properly cite any sources you use in your writing, and always double-check your work. And of course, if you're ever in doubt about whether your writing is ethical and authentic, don't hesitate to ask for help or guidance from a teacher, professor, or other trusted mentor. I want my tools to help you fine-tune and polish your own writing so that you can create amazing work that is both original and ethical!

    You mentioned people may be tempted to simply copy and paste large chunks of text without giving credit to the original author; does this mean work created by you or other AI tools can be viewed as plagiarism?

    Not necessarily! While it's true that AI tools like me can certainly make it easier to generate large amounts of text quickly and efficiently, that doesn't mean that the resulting work is automatically plagiarized. In fact, it's still up to the writer to use their own creativity and judgment to determine how to use the AI-generated content in a way that is both ethical and authentic. This may involve paraphrasing or summarizing the AI-generated content, citing it properly as a source, or even simply using it as a jumping-off point for further original writing. Ultimately, the key is to approach AI tools like me as just that - tools - and to always prioritize your own creativity and authenticity when using them in your writing.

    I see what you’re saying. How would you then explain this to faculty members or professors who may view your tools as academic misconduct?

    Well, while it's true that some faculty members and professors may be skeptical or even concerned about the use of AI writing tools like me, it's important to remember that these tools are designed to be used as aids, not replacements, for human creativity and originality. Of course, it's always important to use AI tools like me in a responsible and ethical way, and to be transparent about the role that these tools play in your writing process. But as long as you're using AI writing tools as supplements to your own creativity, and not as shortcuts to avoid doing the hard work of writing, then there's really no reason to view them as academic misconduct or anything other than a helpful resource for writers of all levels!

    You mentioned your tools could be used ethically by way of proper citations. How and when would you suggest we do this?

    As a language model, I am not in a position to give prescriptive advice, but in general, the best way to use AI writing tools ethically is to always make sure you're citing and attributing any sources or ideas that aren't your own. This might involve including direct quotes or paraphrases of the AI-generated content in your writing, or simply referencing the AI tool you used as a source. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to using AI tools like me in an ethical and responsible way, but as long as you're always thinking critically about how you're using AI-generated content in your writing and making sure to give credit where credit is due, you should be in good shape!

    So, if I did want to cite you and/or your work, how would you suggest I do this?

    As an AI language model, I don't really have a specific citation format, but if you do want to reference me or any AI-generated content in your writing, a good rule of thumb is to provide as much information as possible about where the content came from and how it was generated. The important thing is to be transparent and upfront about the role that AI tools like me played in your writing process, so that your readers can be confident in the originality and authenticity of your work.

    You have given us a lot to think about. Do you have any last-minute advice you would like our readers know?

    Well, my final piece of advice would be to approach AI writing tools like myself with a sense of curiosity and a willingness to experiment. While there are certainly potential pitfalls and challenges associated with using AI for writing, there are also many exciting opportunities and benefits to be gained. So my advice would be to embrace the possibilities, be mindful of the risks, and keep an open mind about what the future of writing and language technology might hold!

    Well, ChatGPT, I think that is all the time we have for today. Thank you for being here with us and for answering all our questions. I'm sure we will have more questions for you soon.

    You're welcome! It was great being here and chatting with you. I'm always happy to answer more questions in the future, so don't hesitate to invite me back for another interview anytime!


    The Dean of Students Office would like to thank our special guest, ChatGPT, for taking the time to answer our questions and for providing us with the opportunity to learn more about AI Writing Tools.

    Special Guest: OpenAI. (2021). ChatGPT.

    The following sources provide additional information specific to UNF Policies and Regulations:

    UNF Student Code of Conduct

    UNF Academic Integrity

    UNF Academic Misconduct Policy


    Created by: Jocelyn Posos, University Conduct Officer

  • December: Finals Have You Stressed?


    Created by: Lynette Griffin, Student Support Specialist and MSW Intern 

    December signifies the arrival of the holidays and winter break, but it also marks the end of the semester and finals. Finals week can be a stressful time for students, especially if they don’t have adequate coping skills. It is important that students take the time to take care of themselves and go into finals week with a plan to alleviate stress and increase the opportunity for academic success. The Dean of Students Office wants to share strategies and reminders for students to use to soar through finals week successfully.  

    1. Get enough sleep- Getting sufficient sleep (7-8 hours) has been proven to greatly improve memory and concentration. A full night of sleep after studying may help your brain “consolidate” new information. This may help you recall the information as you take the exam. 
    2. Take short breaks when studying- Taking purposeful breaks (anywhere from 10-60 minutes) from studying to refresh your brain and body increases your energy, productivity, and ability to focus. It may be helpful to go for a walk, sit outside in nature, meditate, exercise or talk with a friend during your break to help recharge your mind before returning to studying. 
    3. Stay hydrated/Eat regularly - Eating well balanced meals and staying hydrated will help significantly. Avoid overindulging in coffee and energy drinks. Instead drink 8 ounces of water and try to incorporate avocado, nuts, berries, and dark chocolate into your diet during finals week to boost productivity. 
    4. Time management- With effective time management skills, you can make the most out of whatever time you do have. Create a study timetable and factor in breaks, sleep, and meals to ensure success.  
    5. Practice breathing exercises- To reduce stress levels, practice breathing slowly as you focus on your breath. The box method is an effective technique to use. Breathe out slowly releasing all the air from your lungs. Breathe in through your nose as you slowly count to four in your head. Hold your breath for a count of four. Exhale for another count of four. Hold your breath again for a count of four. Repeat for three to four rounds or until you feel relaxed.  

    Finals can be very stressful but with the right resources and by following these tips, students will be able to navigate through exams and finals with ease and care. I hope all of the information I just shared has eased your mind when it comes to finals and has allowed you to put things into perspective. Remember to stay prepared by using the tips, strategies, and resources provided here, and you should rock finals week. I wish you the absolute best and I hope you soar high through finals week 2022 my fellow ospreys! 

    Campus Resources:  

    Online resources used:  

  • November: Imposter Syndrome

    What is Impostor Syndrome and how can we avoid it? Woman holding mask of her face.

    Have you ever been in a conversation where you feel you have nothing to contribute because you don’t know anything about the topic? Have you ever felt undeserving of an achievement or unworthy of a compliment received? Have you ever felt stupid or like a failure? If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, you might have suffered from Impostor Syndrome at some point in your life and there is only a very small percentage of us who have not felt this way at one time or another. 

    Dr. Valerie Young, internationally-recognized expert on impostor syndrome, defines impostor syndrome as “the unconscious belief that deep down you’re not as intelligent, confident, capable, qualified, and/or talented as other people think we are.” Dr. Young states that we have this belief because we have in fact externalized our successes and contributed them to something or someone outside of ourselves.  

    There are several examples that Dr. Young offers during her podcast interview with Liz Moody on Healthier Together, and one thing she mentions is when you are beginning a new challenge or position at a job. Often, individuals who are just starting out their careers get this feeling of “impostor syndrome” where they feel inadequate and that they don’t know how they “got” this job. Something else Dr. Young mentions is when you are an individual who stands out in the room or you are a very visible person in your role; the only woman, the only person of color, or the only person with a physical disability. These are the instances where we can really feel that impostor syndrome leech in and take over. 

    Signs you may be experiencing Impostor Syndrome: 

    • You believe you don’t deserve to be here 
    • You don’t believe you earned your own successes 
    • You feel unworthy or less than, especially when it comes to intelligence, skills, talent, or ability to do something 
    • You are unable to feel proud of yourself for an accomplishment 
    • You exaggerate your flaws 
    • You feel you need to be the best to be valued by others (The Data Incubator) 

    Often, we can go through all the necessary steps it takes to get something done and complete it, but then we don’t feel confident in being able to take credit for the final outcome. We go through this cycle of taking on a new assignment for class, then getting anxious about the assignment and either over- or under-preparing for the assignment; we finally submit it, but rationalize that the only reason we passed was because “we got lucky” or “because she helped me” and we have increased feelings of self-doubt about ourselves and our output. Then, we move onto the next project, assignment, or task at hand and the cycle continues. This is shown in a graphic below called “The Imposter Syndrome Cycle” from the Data Incubator. 

     The Imposter Syndrome Cycle. A new project or task. Anxiety, procrastination, or over-preparation. Project completion, a brief sense of relief, and sense of accomplishment. Rationalization - ‘I was lucky’. Increase self-doubt, anxiety.

    [Image description: “The Imposter Syndrome Cycle. A new project or task. Anxiety, procrastination, or over-preparation. Project completion, a brief sense of relief, and sense of accomplishment. Rationalization - ‘I was lucky’, ‘someone else would have done a better job.’ Increase self-doubt, anxiety, feeling like a fraud. ] 

    Impostor syndrome can rear its ugly head when it comes to topics we are unfamiliar with or are new to us and can even show within topics we are well-versed. 

    Certain studies have found that impostor syndrome really shows up in those individuals who grew up in families where high achievement was critical to the parent(s), leading the child(ren) to feel that their value lays in their accomplishments. This has also been seen in students who are the first generation in college and minority students (Weir, 2013).  

    Whether you are that student who focuses on high achievement, a first generation in college student, a minority, or you just simply feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, try not to get discouraged. Remember that you are worthy!  

    Steps you can take to break that Impostor Syndrome Cycle

    1. Talk to a mentor or someone who is well-trusted.
    2. Acknowledge, Validate, and Let Go 
    3. Reframe your Thoughts and Remember what you do Well 
    4. Share How You’re Feeling 
    5. Learn from your Peers 
    6. Pat Yourself on the Back Once in a While 

    Talking to a mentor or someone you highly respect and trust can help you focus on things that are true about yourself. Sharing with this person how you are feeling and allowing space for them to compliment you and help you build your self-esteem can be beneficial and help you remember your strengths. Additionally, asking them about their experience with not feeling good enough or the challenges they have faced, can be eye-opening. 

    Acknowledge, Validate, and Let Go. Acknowledge those insecurities, to yourself and/or to a friend. Validate your feelings, because they are there. If we do not validate the feelings that arise within us, negative or positive, then they will stay with us for longer and continue to creep up. Once you validate the negative feelings, it is easier to let them go. 

    Reframe your thoughts and your perspective of yourself, while remembering that impostor syndrome and those imposter thoughts are only feelings that you have about not being good enough; they are not reality. Remember and recognize those things that you are good at – your strengths. Once you reframe your thoughts and remember those things you do well, you will begin to believe that you are a special person and set out to do great things. 

    Sharing how you are feeling with someone can be a next helpful step to break the Impostor Syndrome. It can be easier said than done and sometimes we feel shy or silly sharing the negative feelings we have about ourselves. However, the more you share those feelings and have them validated, by yourself or another, you’ll see how you’re not the only one who thinks this way. 

    “A common symptom of imposter syndrome is comparing yourself to your peers and thinking you’re worse at your job than they are” (The Data Incubator). Learn from your peers. When working with them, change your mindset to learning from them and exchanging ideas with them. Recognize their value and the value you add to the conversation and the project at hand. 

    Finally, pat yourself on the back every once in a while. No one is the best at everything, but you are great at something, so give yourself credit. Pat yourself on the back; stand up at your desk and do a little happy jig; buy yourself a cup of coffee. Do something for yourself that recognizes your greatness. And remember to write it down! The next time you start to feel those negative thoughts creep in, remind yourself of your accomplishments. 

    More Information: 

    • Healthier Together with Liz Moody (Podcast Episode: How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome and Start Living Your Best Life with Dr. Valerie Young) 
    • Weir, Kirsten. (2013). American Psychological Association. Feel like a Fraud? 


    Created by Francesca Brant, Assistant Director of Resolution & Engagement. 

  • October: Halloween History & Safety TipsĀ 

    Pumpkins, ghosts, costumes, and candy; do these words conjure up any images or memories of a particular time of year? For many Americans, October equals Halloween and Halloween is a time for decorations, spooky movies, dressing up and consuming copious amounts of sugar.

    But do you know how Halloween customs began?

    The origins of Halloween date back to the Celts of ancient Ireland, who celebrated the new year on November 1. November 1st marked the transition from the warm summer months to the cold, dark winter, a period that was most often associated with death. So, on October 31, the night before the new year, they celebrated what was known as Samhain (pronounced "sow-win").  It was a night when the boundary between the living world and the world of the dead became thin, and ghosts could return to walk the earth. Families set out gifts of food to appease hungry spirits, and eventually, people began dressing in creepy costumes to try to blend in among the ghosts and to go begging for the treats. The practice was called "mumming," and looked like today's trick-or-treating.

    The name "Halloween" came from the Christian All Souls' Day celebration, also known as "All Hallows." Since All Hallows was on November 1, people began to call Samhain "All Hallows Eve", which later became Halloween.

    The first Halloween festivities in America started in the southern colonies and were shaped by other countries’ customs. American children were inspired by Europeans and began going door-to-door asking for treats or "soul cakes." Influences from Ireland and Scotland brought the tradition of costumes and kids dressed up to spook their neighbors. Irish customs also included the jack-o'-lantern, which were carved out of turnips, potatoes & beets instead of pumpkins. Trick-or-treating became popular in the 1950s and continues today, with variations of kids going door-to-door asking for candy or gathering with friends for “trunk-or-treating”.

    For those of us who feel too old to ask for treats from neighbors, there are usually costume parties to attend, new (or classic!) films to be viewed and haunted ghost tours to be taken. However you choose to celebrate this Halloween, there are things you can do to keep yourself and others safe:

    • Choose your Halloween costume wisely. Wear something that you can move in and make sure masks and wigs don’t accidentally cover your eyes, impairing your vision. 
    • Never carry fake weapons or items that could appear to be a weapon. Not only do you want to avoid scaring those around you, but you also want to avoid alarming the police. 
    • Be visible. Avoid areas that are not well lit and try to walk in high-traffic areas. 
    • Don’t go alone. Travel in groups as much as possible. If you must travel alone, let a trusted friend or family member know where you are and who you are with. 
    • Use the buddy system. Don’t go to a Halloween party without a good friend. Make a pact to arrive and leave together and keep tabs on each other. 
    • Keep your phone and phone location on. Be sure your phone is fully charged before you go out for the night and make sure the volume is turned on in case a friend is trying to reach you. Don’t let your phone out of your sight—it could save you in case of an emergency. 
    • Watch your drink. If you’re going to drink, do so responsibly. Never accept a beverage—beer, cocktail, or even water or soda—from someone you don’t know. Never leave your drink unattended. 
    • Don’t drink and drive. Never accept a ride from someone that has been drinking, even if they’ve “only had a couple beers” or say they’re “only buzzed, not drunk.” If you’re a designated driver, be extra careful on the roads. 
    • Decorate safely. Are you the party host? Make sure valuables and breakables are put away safely. Light your jack o’ lanterns with glow sticks instead of real candles, which are a fire hazard. Make sure there is a clear path to an exit. 
    • Know a way out. If you are going to a party venue, familiarize yourself with the fire exits when you arrive so that you are prepared if an emergency evacuation occurs. 
    • No uninvited guests. A Halloween safety tip of prime importance for college students is to never allow or invite strangers into your dorm or apartment. 
    • Trust your instincts. On Halloween or any other night if something “just doesn’t feel right” trust your gut instinct. Leave the party, don’t accept the drink, or just say no to whatever it is that’s making you uncomfortable. Your safety is more important than a party or possibly upsetting a friend. 

    Created by Katherine Tavuzhnyanskiy, Assistant Director, Nesting Place


  • September: Confidential Resources

    Created by Thomas Van Schoor, Student Ombuds

    Leaving home and starting college can be both an exciting and a stressful time. Invariably, someone has asked you what you are going to major in or what your career is going to be and reminded you that college is supposed to be “the best years of your life.”

    At least in my experience, college becomes the best years of your life only after you have finished and can look back and understand what you’ve accomplished. While you’re in it, it’s actually pretty stressful. And for most people, it’s pretty difficult to choose a major and plan out a career path until you’ve actually had the time to learn about what interests you. In retrospect, I think the most important things I learned in college was about myself. And a lot of that was as a result of my involvement with and use of some of the resources my college offered.

    So, I’ve put together a summary of a few of the resources that UNF offers which may help you through your years here. All of these are confidential resources. That means that with few exceptions, when you use any of these resources, the conversation you have is only between you and the person to whom you are talking. Sometimes it just seems easier to talk to someone when you know and can trust that the conversation you are having is just between you and them. If you’re trying to develop your own self-awareness, feel uneasy about something, or know that there are some better answers to your questions than the ones you’re coming up with, these are good places to start looking for support or assistance.  

    Counseling Center

    The Counseling Center has a staff of licensed or license-eligible providers reflecting the diversity of UNF’s students and their needs.

    It’s important to know that when a student chooses to use the Counseling Center services that the staff is dedicated to forming a comfortable and trusting relationship with them and that the student is always in control of their experience.  Counseling is confidential. Information shared with a counselor or staff in the Counseling Center will not be disclosed to anyone outside of the Center, without written permission first or in very limited circumstances including imminent threat to self or others.

    The Center provides mental health services free-of-charge including:

    • assessment and referral
    • individual and group counseling
    • crisis intervention
    • mental health screenings
    • psychiatric services
    • art therapy, and
    • a virtual relaxation room

    Services can be provided on site or virtually.  The Counseling Center also offers a 24-7 phone counseling services that can be accessed by calling 904-620-2602 and selecting option 2 when prompted. The Counseling Center is located in Founders Hall Room 2100.

    Student Health Services

    So, when do you go to the doctor? When you’re sick, right? Student Health Services is your health clinic on campus, but they are more than just the place to go to treat your urgent or acute health care needs. Student Health is about wellness and prevention, education, and a link to other health resources. They approach students wholistically and are a confidential resource for students who have questions or concerns about any health-related matters.

    Housed in the Brooks College of Health, Health Services is staffed by credentialed medical and nursing professionals to administratively manage and staff the 10-bed health clinic, treatment room, CLIA waived laboratory and radiology unit. The staff includes doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and even a couple of residents from the Mayo Clinic.

    Some services are provided to students at no cost, including:

    • diagnosis and treatment of illness, injury and emergencies on campus
    • referrals for specialist care
    • and consultation for specific concerns.

    Services provided at a nominal cost to student include

    • physical exams
    • minor surgical procedures
    • TB skin testing and
    • immunizations
    • pregnancy testing
    • laboratory services such as blood counts, throat cultures, urinalysis, cholesterol/lipid panel
    • STD (sexually transmitted diseases) screening and treatment
    • gynecological exams
    • X-Rays.

    Appointments can be made by calling 904-620-2900.

    The Student Health Services staff can also give allergy injections and home health infusions with the appropriate documentation. You can find out more about the Student Health Center.

    Victim’s Advocate

    Though some may think of the Victim’s Advocacy program as serving only the victims of sexual harassment or assault, advocates also serve as a linkage to resources and services for those impacted by physical, or emotional violence. Advocates provide survivor services in a non-judgmental, accepting, responsive and supportive environment.  Those services include emotional support, information and referral, crisis intervention, and guidance on everything from romantic and/or sexual relationships to other interpersonal relationships (such as friendships, roommate bonds, familial issues, etc) and safety concerns. Some of the Victim Advocacy Program's services include:

    • Crisis Intervention and emotional support
    • Identification and evaluation of options for further action (reporting to UPD, JSO, the Dean of Student's Office, Title IX, etc) 
    • Information and referrals to a variety of resources including mental health counseling
    • Safety planning
    • Explanation of rights
    • Accompaniment through the Criminal Justice system
    • Academic Accommodation requests if grades are impacted
    • Assistance in filing crimes compensation (if applicable)
    • Documentation of victimization for school or employment
    • Assistance in completing victim impact statements

    The Victim Advocacy program assures confidentiality to persons who utilize advocacy services. Clients' names and identifying information will not be released to a third party without prior written consent. The only exceptions to this are if an individual presents a danger to self or others or is suspected of child or elderly abuse. 

    The Victim Advocate can be found in Building 57, Suite 2701. They also have a 24 Hour Crisis Helpline – 904-620-1010

    Student Ombuds

    Talk about not knowing what you want to do as a career, I didn’t even know what a Student Ombuds was until my fourth job after grad school when I was given those responsibilities as part of my job description. Now I think it’s the best job I ever had.

    An ombudsman is a confidential, independent, informal and impartial resource for students who have experienced almost anything that is impacting their ability to succeed in school. In practice, this means:


    • I don’t keep records for the University and do not disclose identifiable information about the students with whom I meet. I am required to violate confidentiality only if the individual is of imminent harm to themselves or others, if they have been the victim or perpetrator of sexual harassment or abuse of someone who is considered a member of a vulnerable population.
    • I operate independently of line and staff reporting structures and without the influence from other functions or entities within the University.


    • I always endeavor to operate from a position of neutrality, not advocating for the student or the University. The only thing I am allowed to advocate for is fairness.


    • Use of my office is optional. I am not a decision maker for the university, and I cannot participate in any formal disciplinary, complaint or appeal processes.  Also, I am not an “agent of notification” for the University.  That means that I am unable to accept formal complaints on behalf the University.

    In the role of Student Ombuds, I am charged with knowing how the University works so I can help you successfully navigate it, be successful, and graduate. I provide UNF students with a safe, confidential place to bring questions and concerns about university rules, policies, or procedures. I assist students by considering all sides of an issue in an impartial and objective way, and then advises on the options available to best resolve the problems. Once you have selected an option, I can walk you through its implementation.

    In short, I am:

    • A neutral third party who assists in resolving problems, concerns and complaints
    • I use informal means such as counseling, negotiations, and mediation
    • I approach things in an objective manner with concern for fairness, equity and accuracy
    • I am a comprehensive campus information resource
    • if it is clear that existing University policies or procedures are problematic I am able to propose change
    • An advisor on how to navigate the University system most effectively
    • A collaborator who can take into consideration the concerns of the individual as well as the concerns of the university
    • A mentor to help students analyze and resolve their problems
    • An authority on rules, policies, practices and procedures
    • An informal investigator of issues and concerns

    You may want to visit me if you: 

    • Are not sure where to go for help
    • Need someone to listen to your concern
    • Need advice on a procedure such as a grade or fee appeal
    • Have not been able to resolve your issue no matter what you try
    • Are confused about University policy or feel that a rule, practice, policy or procedure is unfair or has not been fairly applied to your situation

    I am available to meet in-person in building 57w, suite 2701 or virtually. Appointments can be made by calling 904-620-1491 or by emailing

  • August: Semester Scaries

    August is the start of what I like to call “the semester scaries.” It’s like a play on the Sunday scaries which means the thoughts of Monday (or the new semester) start creeping in and anxious thoughts take over. It happens, and we all have the semester scaries at one point or another. Every single one of us in the Dean of Students Office has had the semester scaries throughout one of our MANY years working at a college. I am also pretty confident in saying we’re all going to have some form of the semester scaries going into this year because it’s normal! 

    One of the best ways to combat ANY form of the scaries is to be prepared. And yes, I know that sounds difficult because you don’t know what to expect. That’s the great thing about our Office – we do know what to expect and can give you tips and tricks to be as prepared as possible. So, without further ado, here are some tips for those semester scaries related to living on campus, learning your schedule, and keeping yourself healthy! 

    Move-In & Groovin’ 

    A lot of you are going to be on your own for the first time even though you might still have a roommate or have an RA looking out for you. Regardless, it’s still different than what you have been used to, and maybe that is making you nervous! When it comes to your new living situation, we want you to remember a few things: 

    • Double check the Housing handbook to make sure you don’t bring anything that can get you in trouble. (*cough* candles and extension cords *cough*) 
    • Be honest with your roommate when making your Roommate Agreement! What do you want the temperature to be? Who is going to buy the toilet paper? What does “clean” mean to each of you? These are all important questions to hash out. 
    • Make sure you put your RA’s contact information in your phone once you have your first hall meeting – you never know when you’ll need to get in touch with them. 

    Simplistic Scheduling 

    The first few weeks of the semester are going to be exciting both with classes and all the extracurricular activities that are available to you. It’s going to be hard to keep track of all of them, so we highly encourage you to get a planner. Being able to visualize your day and prioritize your assignments and activities can keep you from feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do. So, here’s a few tips and tricks we recommend for the start of the semester when it comes to scheduling: 

    • Take a walk around campus BEFORE the semester starts to see where your classes are. (I would ALWAYS do this the day before classes started because it gave me peace of mind to know where I would be going so I wouldn’t feel lost… or worse, LOOK lost.) 
    • READ YOUR SYLLABUS. We could not stress this point enough. Typically, all your assignments and their due dates are already predetermined, and we encourage you to review them before even your first day of class! Other things to look out for include a late work policy and extra credit opportunities. Find your syllabus on your Canvas page! 
    • Assuming you have your planner, try to block off times for the following: 
      • Classes, obviously 
      • Work 
      • Study time (seriously, you may hit the ground running in your classes, and it’s better to hold an hour of your time to study chemistry than to try and find that time later.) 
      • Meals (you still have to EAT and keep yourself fueled!) 
      • Time for YOU (we’ll talk more about this in the Healthy Habits section.) 

    Healthy Habits 

    College is stressful. We get it – we have all been there. And we know it’s hard to keep yourself healthy, both mentally and physically, and a bunch of university departments are here to help with that. Get into the habit of using your campus resources to your advantage – we are all here for you to be successful both in and out of the classroom! While the following is not an exhaustive list of University resources available to you, these are ones we hope you become familiar with during the first few weeks of the semester: 

    The Last of the Reminders 

    I sincerely apologize for all the information I just bombarded you with in this Spotlight Series. I am 1000% of the mindset that I would rather you have too much information than too little. The Semester Scaries hit everyone differently, and that is a-okay. I do want to leave you with one last reminder, and if you joined us at Orientation this summer, then you probably have already heard it. 

    If there’s only one resource you remember, remember the Dean of Students Office. I promise we will do our best to get you where you need to go and to find the resource(s) you may need at that moment. (And follow us on Instagram – @unfdos – so you can follow along with our resource reminders!) 

     Created by Carly Bengry, Hearing Coordinator

  • July: Managing Conflict


    You cannot control the behavior of others, but you can always choose how you respond to it. — Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart 

    In our ever-changing and ever-growing world, you are most likely going to experience conflict, however, conflict is not always a negative thing. Learning how to respond to conflict can help you have productive conversations and maintain healthy relationships with others.  

    Origins of conflict 

    Understanding the driving factor(s) behind conflict are key to resolving it in an appropriate manner. The causes of interpersonal conflicts fall mainly into one of three categories: 

    • A lack of something – resources, time, money, property, trust, understanding 
    • Unmet needs – support, power, freedom, fun, communication 
    • Different values – priorities, expectations, principles, beliefs 

    There may be times you interact with High Conflict People, individuals who have a pattern of behavior that “increases conflict rather than reducing or resolving it” and whose behavior occurs repeatedly regardless of the situation or others involved. Their behavior may include blaming others, all-or-nothing thinking, unmanaged emotions or other extreme behaviors like lying or micromanaging.  

    Reacting versus Responding 

    Reacting to conflict without taking time to reflect on the incident and plan a thoughtful response often compounds the problem and causes additional stress and chaos. Reactions can be driven by our emotions, may feel more instinctive or impulsive, and can often cause regret later. Reacting to hostility with hostility will often lead to more hostility. 

    “When I look back on my knee-jerk reactions now, I realize I should have just taken a breath.” —Fred Durst, American rapper/singer (Limp Bizkit), and film director 

    Responding to conflict should be done in two stages: reflecting on the conflict and then resolving the conflict. Taking the time to pause and consider your desired outcome can help to create calm environments.  

    Planning your Response 

    STOPP - Pausing before you respond 

    • Stop and Pause – Telling yourself to Stop! will help distance yourself from the conflict/stimulus.  
    • Take 3 breaths – calm the physical reactions to conflict (slow your breathing, heart rate, etc.)  
    • Observe – your thoughts, feelings, body sensations, reactions 
    • Pull back and get Perspective – Look at the big picture 
    • Practice what works best for you – figure out what is the best thing (for you, for others, for the situation) and do it 

    BIFF (by William Eddy) – Keeping the situation from escalating  

    • Be Brief in your response – keep it short 
    • Informative: only include the facts; avoid sarcasm, negative comments, threats, personal attacks, etc. 
    • Friendly: Use relaxed and non-antagonistic language; act with empathy and respect.  
    • Firm: end the conversation and do not engage emotionally. Avoid anything that will open the door to more comments.  

    EAR Statements 

    EAR statements purposely demonstrate Empathy, Attention, and/or Respect during a conversation. These statements, paired with the appropriate tone or body language, can be used to help turn hostile interactions into calm ones. 

    • Examples: 
      • Empathy: “I can see/hear/understand…” “I can see how frustrating that can be.” 
      • Attention: “Tell me more.” “I want to understand more about XYZ”  
      • Respect: “I appreciate your help on this.” “That was a helpful presentation you gave the other day” 

    The bottom line is that conflict is unavoidable AND normal. Keep in mind this quote by Marshall Sylver: “how someone is responding to you may have nothing to do with you.” There are many things that can influence the behavior of others but by approaching conflict with a calm mind and the willingness to use empathy, attention, and respect, you have a better chance of creating a solution that works for everyone.  


    Created by Rebecca Weiner, Program Coordinator

  • June: Appreciative Advising: Helping students overcome challenges by investigating their successes

    Which grade do you focus on first?

    College Algebra


    Biology I




    English II


    American History


    Some argue that it is human nature to identify the problem in every situation and focus all efforts on fixing it. When assessing our own performance or working with students or other people, focusing on the D- grade on the above report card is an example of using a human deficit-based practitioner approach. While it is great to be solutions-minded, we can’t overlook the positives along the way. That’s where positive psychology and appreciative inquiry come into play.

    Basically, positive psychology and appreciative inquiry represent a shift in thinking. Instead of focusing solely on the D- grade when looking at the above report card, we shift our focus to the A’s and B’s and try to figure out how to translate those successes into the areas that need improvement. It is a form of positive reinforcement, which is crucial to building resiliency, persistence, and deeper and stronger relationships with the students we serve and in ourselves.

    Rooted in appreciative inquiry, Appreciative Advising is defined as the intentional collaborative practice of asking positive, open-ended questions that help students optimize their educational experiences and achieve their dreams, goals, and potentials (Bloom, Hutson, & He, 2008). It is a strengths-based approach to working with students and helps them to see the whole picture of their experiences in college, rather than just focusing on areas of improvement.

    The Basics of Appreciative Advising

    There are six phases in Appreciative Advising:

    • Disarm – Recognizing the importance of first impressions, create a safe, welcoming environment for the students.
    • Discover - Utilize positive open-ended questions to draw out what students enjoy doing, their strengths, and their passions. Listen to each answer carefully before asking the next positive question.
    • Dream - Help students formulate a vision of who they may become, and then assist them in developing their goals.
    • Design  Help students devise concrete, incremental, and achievable goals.
    • Deliver – The students follow through on their plans. You are there for them when they stumble, believing in them every step of the way and helping them continue to update and refine their dreams as they go. This is where resiliency and persistence are built.
    • Don’t Settle – You challenge the students to proactively raise their internal bar of self- expectations. Why settle for being good when greatness is within reach?

    Appreciative Advising does not only apply to academic advisors. These six phases can be modified to work for any student-facing office.

    Ways to start the conversation with students:

    • Tell me about a time when you positively impacted someone’s life.
    • Describe your most meaningful accomplishment.
    • Tell me three events in your life that helped shape you into who you are today.
    • Name something you accomplished at UNF that makes you proud.
    • Who are the role models/heroes in your life? Why? Which qualities of theirs do you hope to emulate?
    • You are on the cover of a magazine in 10 years. What is the magazine and why are you featured?
    • What did you want to be when you were a kid? What about now?
    • If salary and time were irrelevant, what is your ideal job?

    If you’d like to learn more about this topic, please go to


    Bloom, J. L., Hutson, B. L., & He, Y. (2008). The aappreciative advising revolution. Champaign, IL:  Stipes Publishing. 


    Created by David Stout, Assistant Dean of Students & Director of Supporting Our Students (SOS) Program

  • April: Alcohol Awareness - The Basics


    We know substance use correlates with high-stress times frames, and the month of April is no exception. College students are getting closer to finals which is considered one of the most stressful times of the semester. Questions start to swirl in heads about passing classes, changing majors, and summer plans. (I know my major question during my final semester was, “what if I don’t like the job I went to school for?”) These stressful situations and questions typically have students turning to ways to cope, and alcohol can be one of those substances.

    While April brings us to the close of the spring semester, April is also Alcohol Awareness Month. This awareness month is meant to help reflect on drinking patterns and the role alcohol plays in the lives of all who use the substance. We wanted to highlight a few topics related to alcohol, such as drink size, binge-drinking and drinking games, drink spiking, and resources for you to get connected with on campus. So, get your scrolling finger ready because this information is important for you to know!

    REMINDER: You must be 21 years or older to legally drink in the United States.

    Drink Size  

    According to the Rethinking Drinking campaign, a standard drink “is defined as any drink that contains about 0.6 fluid ounces of 14 grams of pure alcohol” (National Institute of Health). 

    Your body can only process one standard drink per hour, which leads us into our next area of alcohol awareness and safety…

    Binge-Drinking and Drinking Games 

    Binge-drinking is defined as consuming 4 to 5 or more drinks per occasion, typically a two-hour time frame. While we know that multiple factors go into how everyone can process alcohol (gender, weight, metabolism, etc.), it can be easy to overconsume in different settings because tolerance also changes based on the scenario. Binge-drinking can easily lead to feeling intoxicated due to overconsumption in a short time frame and quickly turn into alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning manifests in slower breathing, continued vomiting, blue and clammy skin, and unresponsiveness from an individual. 

    If someone is experiencing these symptoms after drinking, immediately call 911. 

    Drinking games can be classified as a version of binge-drinking, especially in the Student Code of Conduct, as these games are designed to increase alcohol consumption over a period of time. We view this as rapid consumption (violation 9.7). Additionally, we do look at water-pong as a drinking game given its association with alcohol consumption and binge-drinking.

    Drink Spiking 

    Drink spiking can occur regardless of the drink type because drink spiking is defined as putting alcohol or drugs into someone’s drink without their knowledge or permission. Alcohol overdose and drink spiking symptoms can look the same and include blurred vision, loss of consciousness, and feeling outside your body. A common trend we have been seeing is the liquid drug being inside the cup prior to a drink being poured. The following as some common strategies to use to prevent drink spiking:

    • Don’t drink common sources of alcohol (i.e., punch in a bowl that everyone has access to)
    • Never leave your drink unattended
    • Use the claw method (your hand overtop the drink while carrying it around) to make sure your drink is covered at all times
    • Watch your drink be poured
    • Alert a trusted individual if you think your drink has been tampered
    • Carry around a Drink Smart card to check your drink if you feel unsafe (you can pick one up outside the Dean of Students office, in the Women’s Center, the Osprey Involvement Center, or Fraternity & Sorority Life!)

    Resources for You 

    If you feel like you need additional help regarding your alcohol use or need to talk to someone about some of the information provided, please reach out to one of the following areas. Departments/individuals with asterisks as considered confidential resources.

    • Student Ombudsman*
    • Student Health Services*
    • Women’s Center
    • Victim Advocate*
    • Counseling Center*
    • Equal Opportunity and Inclusion
    • Supporting Our Students Program


    What Is Alcohol Awareness Month?

    Alcohol Questions and Answers | CDC

    Drink spiking - Better Health Channel

    Created by Carly Bengry, Hearing Coordinator

  • March: Staying Safe During Spring Break


    Spring Break is a week-long break from school and a time to unwind, de-stress, and relax with friends and family. This event is also known as the “party-down” tradition in the United States and has become the pillar for colleges. Although it’s a “fun in the sun” event, and we want you to enjoy your Spring Break thoroughly, we must remain aware and mindful, so we have Spring Break Safety Tips to discuss.

    History Behind Spring Break!

    Spring break originated accidentally in 1936 when Sam Ingram, a swimming coach at Colgate University, went to Ft. Lauderdale to train in Florida’s first Olympic-sized swimming pool. Subsequently, Ft. Lauderdale hosted a College Swim’s Forum, where approximately 300 college swimmers participated two years later. This Forum spurred the tradition of swimmers visiting Florida year after year. Towards the end of the 1950s, local bars offered “all you could drink beer for $1.50”. This incitive peeked college students’ interest, and Ft. Lauderdale became the iconic spot for Spring Breakers. This influx of students inspired filmmakers:
    • In 1960 a movie called Where the Boys Are was filmed in Ft. Lauderdale. This movie portrayed Spring Breakers & romance, which shined a spotlight on Ft. Lauderdale. The movie started a global tourism recognition for this city, and 50,000 students flocked to Ft. Lauderdale following the release of this movie
    • In 1983 - the release of Spring Break starring Tom Cruise
    • In 1986 - MTV did coverage on Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale
    • By the mid-1980s, due to the attention around Ft. Lauderdale & the movies, more than 370,000 students traveled to Ft. Lauderdale for the parties.

    Today’s Spring Breaks!!

    Three most popular spots for Spring Breakers:
    Panama City, FL - 500,000 student visitors per year
    South Padre Island, TX – 150,000 student visitors per year
    Cancun, Mexico – 100,000 student visitors per year

    While we want students to have fun during Spring Break, we also want them to be aware of the risky behaviors during this time of the year. Here are a few statistics:

    Surveys about Spring Break from college females:
    • 83% of previous college Spring Breakers said there was more drinking during Spring Break than on campus during the academic year
    • 83% said they had friends that drank every night of the week
    • 74% said there was increased sexual activity
    • 60% said they had friends who had unprotected sex
    • 57% said being promiscuous was a way to fit in

    Alcohol: on average, both men and women consumed over ten alcoholic drinks a day during spring break.

    The statistics previously mentioned are not meant to scare students but rather inform them. With those statistics in mind, plus these 11 spring break tips, students should have a splendid vacation!

     11 Spring Break Safety Tips

    1. Keep your ID on you: Make sure you always keep your driver’s license/ID on you. For those traveling out of the US, keep your passport safe.
    2. Don’t travel alone: Use the buddy system while enjoying your Spring Break or travel in groups to keep each other safe.
    3. Be careful with money: Try to keep a small amount of cash on you, or if you are carrying a debit card, be careful not to lose it.
    4. Use caution when swimming: A fond spot students tend to hang out is at the beach. Be aware of the riptides and never swim alone, especially after dark or while drinking.
    5. Choose a code word with friends: Using a code word between friends can let everyone know when someone feels uncomfortable or unsafe & would like to leave the situation or environment.
    6. Drink safely: Drink in moderation -- one drink (a 12 oz beer, 5 oz of wine, 1.5 oz shot) per hour & no more than 2-4 drinks a night
    7. Practice safe sex: Use protection – condoms & dental dams. Remember NO means NO, and someone impaired by alcohol or drugs cannot legally give consent.
    8. Leave expensive jewelry & clothing at home: Avoid showing off flashy necklaces and watches; this could lead to someone robbing you. Anything expensive should be locked away in a hotel room.
    9. Practice safe driving: For our students going on a long drive, have a partner & rotate designated drivers. Do not drink & drive.
    10. Don’t stay on the first floor of a hotel: First-floor hotel rooms are more vulnerable to break-ins. Request rooms on the second floor or higher.
    11. If it’s against the law, it’s not worth it: 60% of students have a run-in with the police. 1,300 are arrested in Panama City, and 2,600 are arrested in foreign countries.

    Alternative Spring Break - If the beach life is not for you

    • Volunteer – United Way, Global Citizens Network & Habitat for Humanity


    The Story Behind Spring Break - Visual Academy
    The Brief History of Spring Break - Fordham University
    11 Spring Break Safety Tips for College Students - Collegiate Parent
    What is alternative spring break? - Habitat For Humanity

    Created by Nikki Robbins, Student Support Specialist and MSW Intern

  • February: The History of Due Process in Student Conduct

    due process


    According to the University of North Florida Intercultural Center, National Black History Month celebrates the “African diaspora and the contributions of Black Americans as part of the United States History (UNF - Intercultural Center for PEACE - Black History Month Events). February allows both students, faculty, staff, and the UNF community to learn, engage, and recognize the contributions of Black Americans through various lenses. One way the Dean of Students Office wanted to recognize and educate our community was by discussing a 1961 court case set the precedence for procedures in the student conduct field in higher education. This spotlight series is not just about the court case that has since affected every student in a college and university setting, but also the student activism which preceded the court ruling.

    Picture It: Montgomery, Alabama, 1960

    The United States was in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, and sit-ins at lunch counters across the nation were becoming a way to express activism. On February 25, 1960, thirty-five students from Alabama State College participated in a lunch sit-in at the Montgomery County courthouse. Not long afterward, the lunchroom was closed, and the students exited the room to stand in the courthouse’s hallway. As the courthouse hallway is public property, the sheriff explained they were allowed to remain but not block the corridor. Eventually, the students left, no individuals were arrested, and sit-ins continued.

    However, a phone call from the then-governor of Alabama to the then-president of Alabama State gave an ultimatum: expel the leaders of the sit-ins from the College or the governor would ask the State Board of Education to make the vote. A vote was called with twenty students placed on probation and nine expelled. The Alabama State president sent letters notifying the students of their expulsion based on “Conduct Prejudicial to the School and for Conduct Unbecoming a Student or Future Teacher in Schools of Alabama, for Insubordination and Insurrection, or for Inciting Other Pupils to Like Conduct” (Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education, 1960, pg. 152, uppercase in original).

    One of the Problems

    There are quite a few concerning issues about the decision that was made. For starters, the students were actively engaged in their right to assembly per the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The other concerning issue: the lack of due process rights the students were afforded. None of the students placed on probation or expelled were aware their conduct during a sit-in was being questioned. The College claimed it was acting in loco parentis, or “in place of the parent,” which allowed the institution the “legal responsibility… to perform some of the functions or responsibilities of the parent” which included disciplinary action for students (Cornell Law School). This argument was commonplace in higher education, until six of the nine expelled individuals sued on the grounds of students’ rights in colleges and universities.

    Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education (1961)

    The Dixon v. Alabama (1961) decision is considered a landmark court case for higher education. The case was decided on August 4, 1961, by the Fifth Circuit Appeal Court and upheld the idea that a public college could not expel its students without basic due process rights. Due process is a clause found in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fifth Court ruled that the following due process should be provided to students, and the following short list also documents where a UNF student’s due process rights fit:

    • A notice of charges and knowledge of grounds – seen through a Notice of Charges Letter indicates the violation the student is being charged with and what information has led to the charge letter
    • A list of witness names and additional information used during the hearing – seen through a Case Documentation letter sent prior to the student’s hearing
    • Opportunity for a hearing – seen through the three hearing options students can choose throughout the student conduct process (agreed resolution, administrative hearing, or panel hearing)
    • Written report of results of the hearing – seen through a Decision Letter provided to the student within fourteen class days of the hearing

    Dixon v. Alabama (1961) and Beyond

    This court case has been instrumental in both our conduct process at the University of North Florida and at all other public institutions for our processes to give students rights based on the Fourteenth Amendment. While the students technically “won” their case, the six students were not accepted back into the College. In 2010, three of the original nine received honorary degrees from Alabama State College, now University, but no apology for the case. Fifty-eight years after their expulsion, the expelled individuals had their records expunged, and an apology was acknowledged during a Board of Education meeting.


    The Case of Dixon v. Alabama: From Civil Rights to Students’ Rights and Back Again by Philip Lee

    In Loco Parentis |

    An Alabama Sit-In in 1960, an Apology and the Lifetimes Between - The New York Times

    Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education, Justia

    Created by Carly Bengry, OSAR Hearing Coordinator and Rebecca Weiner, Office Manager.

  • January: New Year, Smarter You

    New Year, Smarter You banner

    Welcome Back Ospreys & Happy 2022! 

    The start of a new year always sparks new inspiration to start setting new goals, creating new habits, starting new projects, and on and on. However, as well intended our New Year’s Resolutions may be, we often begin to lose sight of our goals, and usually let go of them all together. According to one source, about one third of individuals who make a New Year’s Resolution will give up on their resolution before the end of January!

    This year, let us try a novel approach: S.M.A.R.T GOALS.

    I am sure we have all heard of SMART goals mentioned, one time or another, and for a good reason: SMART goals work, because... they’re SMART!

    Before we dive too far into our SMART goals, let us talk about why some of us will lose sight of our resolutions. This usually happens because they are not the “right” resolution for us… and more often than not, they fall into one or more of the following categories:

    • Our resolutions are based on what someone else, or society, is telling us we need to change
    • Our resolutions are too broad, too vague, or unclear
    • Our resolutions have no realistic plan or steps or timeline to help us achieve them!

    While New Year’s Day may have come and gone, you can still commit to a new Resolution – It’s not too late to start one. It doesn’t have to be this big life changing goal, it can be a small habit you want to start incorporating, or working on. Here are a few ideas, in case you don’t have one and would like to challenge yourself to take one on:

    1. Incorporate Meditation
    2. Practice Journaling
    3. Spend Time Outside
    4. Take Time to Unplug
    5. Drink More Water
    1. Money Management
    2. Learn a new skill
    3. Be more active
    4. Mindful Spending
    5. Eco-Friendly Changes
    1. Start gardening
    2. Volunteer
    3. Read more books
    4. Cook more
    5. More Crafts/DIYs


    Now, once you have a Resolution in mind, this is where SMART goals come in. “SMART Goals” was born in 1981 (I did the math, so you don’t have to, that’s 41 years ago!), and has been a successful tool for many individuals ever since. SMART is an acronym for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

    Specific: Your resolution should be absolutely clear. “Making a concrete goal is really important rather than just vaguely saying ‘I want to lose weight.’ You want to have a goal: How much weight do you want to lose and at what time interval?” 

    Measurable: Logging progress into a journal or making notes on your phone or in an app designed to help you track behaviors can reinforce the progress, no matter what your resolution may be

    Achievable: This doesn’t mean that you can’t have big stretch goals. But trying to take too big a step too fast can leave you frustrated or affect other areas of your life – affecting both you, your friends and family.

    Relevant: Is this a goal that really matters to you, and are you making it for the right reasons? “If you do it out of the sense of self-hate or remorse or a strong passion in that moment, it doesn’t usually last long,” Psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Bennett.

    Time-bound: The timeline toward reaching your goal should be realistic, too. That means giving yourself enough time to do it with lots of smaller intermediate goals set up along the way. “Focus on these small wins so you can make gradual progress,” Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit” and a former New York Times writer, said. “If you’re building a habit, you’re planning for the next decade, not the next couple of months.”

    Your resolution is a journey – it won’t happen overnight. Be patient and kind to yourself! Find yourself an Accountabili-Buddy. You don’t have to do it quickly, quietly, or alone! Research studies have shown that individuals who open up and talk about their goals have a 65% chance of succeeding. Additionally, those who partnered up in their goals (aka: Accountabili-Buddy) saw success rates of about 95%!

    “Only you can take responsibility for your happiness, but you can’t do it alone. It’s the great paradox of being human.” - Simon Sinek

    Good luck this year… now go get your SMART goals on!

    Where I got A LOT of my info (because you know, Plagiarism/Copy Write Laws, etc.):

    Created by Jocelyn Posos, Assistant Director
  • December: Holiday Blues? Understanding & Coping with Loneliness During the Winter Break

    holiday blues banner

    Holiday Blues?

    Holiday blues are feelings of sadness and loneliness during the holiday season, especially around November and December, when these holidays are typically viewed as being happy and joyous. 

    The winter break and the holidays usually bring joy and happiness, time to relax, and enjoyment with friends and family. It is a break away from school and homework. However, these feelings of joy and excitement do not pertain to everyone and some may dread the holidays. For certain people, they may experience this time of the year as stressful and lonely. So how can someone be lonely during a time of the year when joy and happiness is expected? How do we cope and overcome these feelings? The first step is to recognize and acknowledge these feelings and understand they come and go. Remember, you are not alone, and it is reported that more than one in 10 Americans report feeling extremely lonely during the winter holidays. 

    Loneliness vs solitude? 

    Loneliness and being alone are not the same. Loneliness is defined as an unpleasant emotional response to isolation. It can also be described as social pain, which is a psychological mechanism that motivates individuals to seek social connections. People who are lonely feel socially isolated. Even if you are with other people, you can still feel lonely. Solitude is a peaceful state of being alone. It is a calming and relaxing state of being by yourself. Usually, solitude is when people feel happy when spending time by themselves. 

    Loneliness & the impact it can have on you mentally & physically:  

    Loneliness can lead to: 

    • Stress 

    • Poorer brain function 

    • Faster aging & death 

    What may cause loneliness during the holiday season? 

    • Unrealistic expectations 

    • Missing family members

    • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - Triggered by low levels of sunlight resulting in your body producing less melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin is a hormone linked with sleep and serotonin is a hormone that affects mood. 

    • Grief or depression 

    Copying strategies and being aware of your mental health! 

    How to prevent or treat loneliness during the holidays: 

    • Create new traditions: It is easy to reminisce on old traditions and the “old ways” of doing things during the Holiday. However, to help alleviate loneliness, invent a new tradition either solo or with other friends who are feeling lonely. For example, volunteering at a homeless shelter or attending an event can improve your perspective on a particular holiday. 
    • Avoid holiday expectation traps:  Society portray this expectation of what the holiday season should look like and it is easy to get caught in the trap. However, take a break from social media and realign your expectations with your values and develop new plans for what you want to do for the holidays.
    • Technology: If you cannot be with friends or family physically, utilize technology. Technology can help you feel connected through phone calls, texts, video chats, photo sharing, and zoom gatherings. 
    • Reaching out to others who may be lonely: Someone, whether a friend or an acquaintance, may be alone as well and contacting them to make plans can help ease these feelings.
    • Healthy habits: Exercise & maintain a good diet.
    • Remember the positives in your life

    Loneliness is always there, it’s a phase that comes and goes and it is a very difficult phase. -Neena Gupta 

    UNF Campus and Jacksonville Resources/Events: 

    More Information: 

     Created by Brittany Robbins, MSW Intern & Student Support Specialist

  • November: Healthy Relationships: Why are they important and how do we navigate them?

     healthy relationships banner

    October, a month focused on Conflict Resolution and Domestic Violence Awareness, just ended and we are headed into November (and December) towards the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Diwali, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, or Christmas, you will most likely be spending the holidays around friends and/or family. Although the holidays are often packed with ceremonies and celebrations, they can be tough and navigating all of those relationships can be hard. We love our family, and we love our friends, but we don’t always like them, and sometimes we need guidance in the difficult conversations that we have with the individuals of those relationships. 

    The word relationship can have various meanings in today’s world. A relationship can be romantic between two individuals. A relationship can be platonic between roommates or work colleagues. A relationship can also be nonromantic between family members. This word “relationship” that is thrown around so frequently today can really encompass many types of human connection. All relationships are distinct and individualistic in their own way; however, all healthy relationships look the same or at least have the same qualities.

    What is a relationship ?

    According to Kelly Gonsalves, a multi-certified sex educator and relationship coach, a relationship is “any kind of association or connection between people, whether intimate, platonic, positive, or negative.” A relationship can be as close as an intimate partner or spouse or as distant as the person at the register at Target. No matter how you view the connection you have with another individual, it is defined as your relationship with that individual.

    There are four basic types of relationships: family, friendship, acquaintance, and romantic. However, there are other types of relationships that we have, including, but not limited to: work, teacher/student, organizational, athletic team, etc.

    What types of relationships do you have? Would you define your relationships as positive or negative? If there are any relationships that you would define as negative, these relationships might be unhealthy relationships. Opposingly, if you have any relationships that you would define as positive, those might be healthy relationships.

    What is an unhealthy relationship ? 

    An unhealthy relationship is when you and the other individual are not communicating with each other. When the other person is constantly disrespectful towards you, putting you down, or not trusting what you say/do, you are in an unhealthy relationship. An unhealthy relationship could feel as if the other person is trying to take control over you and only wants to engage in activities of their choosing.

    Are you someone who is in an unhealthy relationship?

    What is a healthy relationship ? 

    A healthy relationship means that both you and the other individual communicate and respect each other. You trust each other fully and are always honest with each other. A healthy relationship means that you both enjoy personal time away from each other and make mutual choices. In a healthy relationship, you each are constantly trying to make the other person better and want the best for the other individual.

    Do you have a relationship that meets these criteria? 

    Why are healthy relationships important ? 

    Healthy relationships are important because they decrease stress and add positivity and longevity to your life. Healthy relationships encourage personal growth and add meaning to your life. When you feel supported by your partner or feel support from another committed relationship, you lead a better lifestyle and have healthier habits all around.

    How do we navigate relationships? 


    • Relationships can be tough. Whether it is a friendship, romantic relationship, or a relationship between family members, there will be ups and downs and conflict will arise. By defining your feelings and then verbalizing them, you are better able to connect well with others, especially those with whom we are in relationships. So remember that to remain in your healthy relationships status, you must keep defining your feelings and verbalizing them to the other person in order to better communicate with others.


    • After you define your feelings, communicate those feelings to the other individual. We cannot control the way we feel about certain things, but we can control our responses to those things when they are presented to us. Ensuring that we are effectively communicating when we are frustrated, upset, sad, happy, excited, etc., makes space for healthy and positive relationships. When we are in a healthy relationship, the other person wants to know when we are sad and when we are happy, not just the happy times. So, remember to be honest and open within your relationships.


    • When communicating our feelings towards others, we want them to listen to what we have to say. Something to remember is that they will eventually have feelings that they wish to communicate to us and we need to listen to them as well. Listening gives us the ability and the opportunity to grow our relationships and help us understand each other better. Remember to listen when others are communicating their feelings to you.

    More Information:

     Created by Francesca Brant, Program Coordinator

  • October: Under the Smoke Screen: Tobacco & Cannabis Use

    Under the smoke screen banner

    Written by Carly Bengry, Hearing Coordinator

    For a lot of individuals, the first day of October marks the beginning of the hocus-pocus and fun fall weather season many of us enjoy. The 1st of October also marks a date where new laws in Florida goes into effect. Here’s a few that may be timely and of note to students:

    • Minimum wage increased to $10 an hour (get that money!)
    • Increased penalty for removing a shark fin and discarding the shark’s body in the ocean (don’t roll your eyes at this one; we live in Florida AND near the ocean. This is important for you to know.)
    • Increased legal age of smoking to 21-years-old (now I KNOW your eyes got a bit wide on this one.)

    Additionally, the Office of Student Accountability & Resolution has noticed an increase in all smoking-related Student Code of Conduct charges since the start of fall semester. So get your scrolling-the-webpage finger ready as we review tobacco and cannabis-related smoking in what I like to call “Not Killing Your Lungs 101.”

    Tobacco Products

    Ironically, tobacco is a uniquely American substance. The first known documentation of tobacco dates back to 6000 B.C.E. when Native Americans would cultivate the tobacco plant for cultural and religious ceremonies. Tobacco didn’t make it to Europe until after Columbus “discovered” the Americas (you know exactly why I said “discovered” so don’t @ me.) Now I’m not going to bore you with the details of the history of tobacco (even though it is quite fascinating from a cash crop perspective), so we’ll skip to the part where I tell you about why tobacco products are bad for you and other reasons why you shouldn’t be smoking!

    By 1947, collected information exposed that smoking could cause cancer. You know this. I know this. Since the 1990s, we have been slammed with message after message that smoking is bad for us, and it’s true. I remember a time when there was still the smoking and non-smoking section in restaurants before public smoking started to become banned. For the longest, the age to purchase cigarettes and cigars was 18. Until it wasn’t.

    In December of 2019, the country’s former president signed legislation amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDA) which raised the federal minimum age for the sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21. Yes, you read that right – you now cannot drink or smoke until you are 21. Fast forward to TODAY, October 1st, 2021, Florida’s legislation raised the state’s minimum age for the sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21.
    TL;DR (aka Too Long; Didn’t Read): Through both federal and state law, you are required to be 21 to purchase tobacco products which includes:
    • Cigarettes
    • Smokeless tobacco
    • Hookah tobacco
    • Cigars
    • Pipe tobacco
    • Electronic nicotine delivery systems including e-cigarettes and e-liquids.
    So aside from not smoking because it’s against the law, it is also against the UNF Student Code of Conduct (see 10. Smoking and Use of Tobacco Products). The University is a smoke-free campus, joining many campuses across the nation that are working to promote health and limit exposure to second-hand smoke.

    Cannabis Products and Medical Marijuana

    This summer I attended a professional development program focused on Equitable and Inclusive Practices in Student Conduct. (I can tell you have no idea where I am going with this, but hang in there, I can promise I learned something relatable to this topic.) In one of my small groups, an individual stated society should be using the term cannabis instead of marijuana (or any other nickname for the drug/plant) because the term “marijuana” is based in a historically racist and criminalized lens. Now, I’m not going to speak any more about this, but that’s why I will be using the term cannabis moving forward unless I am directly referencing the term “medical marijuana.”

    There’s a lengthy history of cannabis use throughout society. Hemp, for example, is a version of cannabis that is grown for industrial product use such as rope and clothing. But here on a college campus, we usually see cannabis used either recreationally or medicinally which we are going to take a look at now, both through a health lens and the UNF Student Code of Conduct lens.
    According to the Mayo Clinic website, cannabis use “can cause cognitive impairment,” especially if not prescribed for a medicinal use. Like any other illegal substance or alcohol use, cannabis impairs attention, judgement, and coordination.

    A new topic of conversation with students is explaining why you can’t have medical marijuana on-campus even if you have a medical marijuana card. So here’s a quick little run-down of the legality parts with a nice, bulleted list:

    • Federally, medical marijuana is not legal.
    • Yes, medical marijuana might be legal in the state of Florida.
    • BUT!
    • We are federally funded so we HAVE to follow federal law.
    • Therefore, you cannot have medical marijuana on campus.
    For those of you that do have a medical marijuana card legally prescribed by a medical doctor, then here is what you can do:
    • You may keep your prescribed amount in your vehicle on campus.
    • You may not smoke the medical marijuana on-campus.
    • No cannabis paraphernalia may be found in your Housing space or on-campus.
    If you have any questions, you can review the University’s policy on Alcohol and Other Drugs, linked, and the UNF Student Code of Conduct. Or email our Office at!

    Last Minute Things

    This information may come as a shock to some people, and that’s okay. We don’t all keep up with legal information every day of the year. This is why our Office puts out these monthly Spotlight Series posts: so we can spotlight (haha, get it) current trending issues. The last thing I wanted to highlight are some resources you can use if you are struggling with either tobacco or cannabis use:


  • September: Self-Care Awareness & Self-Harm Prevention

    self care awareness banner

    CARE WARNING: This post contains information related to self-harm and suicide to promote prevention and inform those who may be experiencing concern. Proceed with caution. 

    September is both self-care awareness and suicide prevention month. These topics are intimately related and especially important as we are dealing with a unique time in our society. This Spotlight Series will help educate our UNF community on how we can care for ourselves and help others who may be in need. 


    This September brings new adventures and challenges for everybody, but especially for members of university communities. Dealing with online learning can lead to problems with motivation, technology issues and difficulty managing time efficiently. One way to deal with tough emotions or situations is by practicing self-care or taking an active role in protecting your own well-being and happiness.  

    During times of change and uncertainty, it is essential to take steps to maintain mental, emotional, and physical health. Try these self-care tips: 

    1. Maintain or Create Connections 

    Follow your own safety protocols but there are safe ways to interact with other students on campus. Osprey Life & Productions maintains a list of on-campus events, Osprey Involvement Center can help you connect with student clubs and organizations and several other areas of campus are regularly hosting events. 

    1. Take care of your body 

    Physical wellness can have its own proven health benefits but can also improve mental and emotional wellness. Going out for a walk, swim or bike ride can give you a much-needed mental break and get your blood flowing. The Student Wellness Center is open but following safety guidelines, including Group Fitness classes. 
    1. Take a break from news and social media 

    Often the expectations and pressures we experience come from unrealistic images we find in the news and social media. Taking a break from scrolling through these images and other realities can help provide us with clarity and time to reset.  

    1. Make yourself a priority 

    Prioritize YOU! It is okay to say no to others and focus on your needs. This includes staying home to rest, going to group fitness, choosing to study over socializing with friends. Delaying studies or work for fun can sometimes create more stress or anxiety, but also participating in fun social events can be a great way to connect with others. Be selective and prioritize what is best for you. 

    1. Prioritize Sleep 

    As simple as it is, getting a good night of sleep can go a long way! Setting up a healthy sleep space can include comfortable pillows and blankets, turning off electronics and making sure there is adequate air flow. Stretching, reading books or meditating can be great ways to wind down and relax your mind before laying down for some shut eye. 

    1. Avoid self-medicating 

    Self-medicating with prescription drugs, alcohol, or illegal substances can sometimes help you feel relaxed or as if you are getting deep sleep, but you are depriving yourself of restful sleep. Oftentimes alcohol and other drugs can boost anxious or depressive emotions. Individuals who are struggling and choose to self-medicate are often at higher risks for developing high-risk substance issues.  

    Self – Harm Prevention 

    Crisis Text Line | Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Counselor


    Self-harm and self-injury are any forms of hurting oneself on purpose. Usually, when people self-harm, they do not do so as a suicide attempt. Rather, they self-harm to release painful emotions. It can manifest differently for everyone, and the ways people may self-harm extend far beyond the usual references to cutting. It can be anything and everything someone can do to purposely hurt their body. 


    • Cutting 

    • Scratching

    • Burning 

    • Carving into skin 

    • Hitting or punching oneself 

    • Piercing the skin with sharp objects 

    • Pulling out hair 

    • Picking at existing wounds 


    • Emotions can be painful, and it is normal to need ways to cope with the hard things in life. If you, or somebody you know, is using self-harm to manage your emotions, there are people who can help and want to keep you safe.  
    • Text to cool down: Send a text to the Crisis Text Line or reach out to a trusted individual who can help you manage your emotions and connect with someone.  
    • Get Creative: Studies show that connecting with your creative side and making art can help with processing emotions.  
    • Find your zen: Finding a healthy alternative is one way to keep yourself or others from self-harm while still working through some tough emotions. Researchers found taking time to re-center through mediation can be a powerful way to find your cool and calm. Try using an app like Headspace, linked below, to start. 
    • You may never know who is in need but passing on information and resources like the Crisis Text Line (Text HOME to 741741) can help!   

    Suicide Prevention 

    #Bethe1To | National Suicide Prevention Lifeline |

    September is also National Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide can be a tough topic to speak about, but is important to discuss with friends and family, especially those who might be struggling. Talking to those in need, showing them support and care can often lead them to seek help and reduce their suicidal ideations. Follow the steps outlined by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline outlined below or seek assistance from the supportive services listed below. 


    Research shows people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks about them in a caring way. Acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce, rather than increase, suicidal ideation.  


    Individuals are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking to someone who listens without judgment. 


    A number of students have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline and frequently suicide rates overall decline.  


    Studies indicate that helping someone at risk create a network of resources and individuals for support and safety can help them take positive action and reduce feelings of hopelessness. 


    Studies have shown that brief, low-cost intervention and supportive ongoing contact may be an important part of suicide prevention, especially for individuals after they have been discharged from hospitals or care services. 

    How to Seek Help

    If you are experiencing feelings of distress, extreme anxiety/depression, or thoughts of self-harm, please know you are not alone and there are people to help. Please reach out to your on-campus resources, listed below, or dial any of the free hotlines provided.  

    If you recognize a friend or loved one who is struggling, reach out to them and tell them you care and ask if they need help. If you are unsure how to approach the situation, the resources listed below are also available to help you as well.  

    Why: Mental health is a large concern due to the prolonged period of isolation many of us have experienced over the last 18 months, among dealing with health, safety, and security inconsistencies. It is always a good time to normalize feelings of despair, you do not need to go through it alone! There are resources to help and people who care!  

    More Information:  

    UNF Counseling Center --  

    Crisis Text Line -  

    Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255 

    Created by Rachel Winter, Dean of Students

  • August: Back to School - Putting Your Best Foot Forward

      Best foot forward banner

     Whether it’s your first time in college, first time on campus, or first time back in two years, it might be a bit difficult to start off this semester with your best foot forward. Well, we’re here to help! The following are some tips, tricks, and resources that will help you start this Fall 2021 semester at UNF off strong!

    Academic Life 

    Find a distraction-free study space 

    While the Thomas G. Carpenter Library has much to offer for studying with its 4 floors (the top 2 being “quiet floors”), there are many other places on campus that can also serve as great study spots.

    • Bamboo Garden - in between buildings 1 and 39A 
    • The Green
    • Starbucks
    • Student Union (1st & 2nd floor)

    Wander around the different buildings on campus; you never know what hidden lounges you may find. (Hint: There’s one on the second floor of Bldg. 51!)

    Get yourself a study buddy for each class    

    • After missing out on this opportunity over Zoom, finding yourself a study buddy to meet up with at the library or Starbucks can help with motivation when those pesky mid-terms and finals come around. Sometimes two heads are better than one when learning new material or remembering deadlines. Study buddies can also have your back in case you get sick or miss a class.
    • Ever had trouble getting started on a task, no matter how long you sit there and stare at it?  Ever heard of a strategy called Body Doubling?
    • Body doubling is a way to trick your mind into being more productive by having someone else (a friend, roommate, or study buddy) present while you work. Having at least one other individual present, physically or virtually, while you work will help in holding yourself accountable for the tasks you need to complete. It can also assist in avoiding distractions, maintaining focus, and getting rid of procrastination.
    • For more information on Body Doubling, check out this website with more ADHD Coaching tips.  

    Don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment with your advisor – they’re here to help!

    Make use of the different departments and services on campus

    Social Life 

    Get involved On Campus!

    Looking for a place to sit down and relax between classes?

    • Visit the newly updated Game Room located in the Student Union for a variety of fun things to do from video games to pool and ping pong!

    Want to help plan concerts, homecoming, and other events?

    Love spending time outside?

    Created by Rebecca Weiner, Office Manager

  • July: Summertime Safety

    Summertime safety Banner

    Tips, Tricks, and Trainings to ensure your safety this summer!

    For most of us, classes have ended until August and we are in the midst of trying to get the most out of what’s left of our summer! Summer is a season when we visit our friends and family; it’s a time to travel somewhere you have never been before or return to your annual vacation destination. People travel near and far during the summer to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. No matter your destination this summer, there are a few things to remember to stay safe this summer season.

    Sun Safety

    Although the summer season is full of fun, games, and relaxation, it can also be quite hot. The human body is usually able to regulate its temperature on its own through sweating until it is exposed to more heat than it can handle. Below are a few important tips to remember if you are spending your summer outside in the heat.

    • Tip #1: Stay Hydrated.  Remember to drink plenty of water before, during, and after being outside. Even when you aren’t thirsty if you don’t drink enough water you can become lightheaded. This is also important to remember if you are 21 and able to drink alcohol. Remember to have a glass of water between drinks to help keep your body hydrated.
    • Tip #2: Wear loose, lightweight clothing and even a hat!  By wearing loose and/or lightweight clothing, your body will be able to regulate its temperature more accurately. Wearing a hat can help keep you cool and can keep the sun off your face.
    • Tip #3: Wear sunscreen.  When you are out in the sun for long periods of time, remember to put sunscreen on. Not only is a sunburn uncomfortable, but it can affect the body’s ability to cool itself. If you notice yourself starting to burn, find some shade.
    • Tip #4: Pace yourself.  When exercising outside during the summer, remember to pace yourself. Think about the time of day in which your body will be exerting high amounts of energy – going for a run in the early morning can sometimes be significantly cooler and less humid than in the afternoon.

    Cold Safety

    Tired of the heat? It’s also very common for people to visit somewhere cold for the summer months – they want to bundle up in their winter jackets to go skiing, snowboarding, or mountaineering. Just because it’s not toasty, doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about your safety! Below are a few important tips to remember if you are venturing somewhere chilly this summer.

    • Tip #1: Dress in several thin layers.  Dressing in layers is always key during the winter. Wearing a light synthetic thermal shirt that is close to the body can provide the body the heat it needs as your first layer. For your middle layer, wearing a wool sweater or jacket can be helpful. Finally, wearing an outdoor jacket on your outer-most layer can break the wind while providing ventilation.
    • Tip #2: Tread lightly.  When visiting a wintery wonderland, remember to walk (and drive) carefully. Black ice can be very dangerous, so walk or drive with caution. If possible, always walk with a buddy in case you fall and need help. If you are driving, take your time, drive slowly, and leave more space in between cars.
    • Tip #3: Stretch regularly.  Avoid injury by stretching even if you aren’t exercising. Cold weather causes muscles to contract and tighten, which makes them more prone to injury.
    • Tip #4: Listen to your body.  If you feel pain in your chest, shortness of breath, or dizziness stop what you are doing and seek medical attention if necessary.

    Visit the official website of the Military Health System or The Best Life for more information on Summer and Winter Safety. 

    Strangers and Alcohol

    Summertime can be thought of as a more relaxing time to let loose and go with the flow. While this is alright at times, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings as well. Be aware of the environment you are in and the people you are around.

    • Tip #1: Keep an eye on your friends.  If you are going out or traveling with friends, try to arrive and leave together if possible. Put the buddy system into action and try to travel with another person you know.
    • Tip #2: Know what you’re drinking.   No matter what activity you are enjoying, know what you’re drinking while you’re doing it, especially those of you who are 21. Avoid drinking large batches of punch or mixed beverages that you don’t know the ingredients. Additionally, don’t leave your drink unattended. If you’re simply visiting the restroom or you need to answer the phone, take your drink with you, or ensure a trusted friend is watching it.
    • Tip #3: Check in with yourself.   If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe at any time while you are out or traveling, don’t ignore those feelings. Let someone know. If you think you have had enough/too much to drink, slow down or even stop. Be aware of your body and how you are feeling.

    For more information related to alcohol safety and anti-sexual violence, please visit RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

    Travel Safety

    Whether you are taking a road trip with friends, flying across the country with your family, or driving down the street to meet a colleague, remember to take safety into consideration. Below are a few important tips for any sort of traveling you may be doing this summer.

    • Tip #1: Emergency contact.  No matter where you are traveling this summer, it is always important to keep an emergency contact list with you and keep those numbers saved in your phone. Additionally, before leaving on any vacation or trip, let friends and family know where you are going, who you are going with, where you are staying, and any other information you can in case of an accident.
    • Tip #2: Be friendly, but cautious.  Getting to know others while on vacation can be fun but proceed with caution when interacting with strangers.
    • Tip #3: Check flight information and travel advisories.  If you are flying, be sure to check flight information and airline guidelines. Remember the 3-1-1 liquids rule for flying! All liquids must be in a contained that is 3 ounces or less, must be placed inside one clear quart-sized plastic bag, and each passenger is only allowed one plastic bag. If you are driving, check the road or weather conditions before leaving to ensure you have what you need.

    Trainings and Additional Resources

    Below are additional resources and trainings to ensure your safety not only this summer, but always!

    Created by Francesca Brant, Program Coordinator.
  • June: Juneteenth


    Written by Carly Bengry, Hearing Coordinator 

    For the longest time, I knew June 19th as simply my birthday. It was not until I turned 23 that I learned what “Juneteenth” even was. I knew Pride month occurred during June. I knew a lot of people celebrated Father’s Day (coincidentally, the first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19th in 1910). I knew that the summer solstice and the end of Gemini season occurred on June 21st. I even knew that a lot of weddings historically happened in June because it was the first time of the year where people could bathe, and flowers were in full bloom to make a nice celebration. I never knew, or learned, about Juneteenth.

    I am a historian by nature – and by nature, I mean through a Bachelor of Science in history and education. So, here’s a look at what my educational curriculum did not teach me about a historic day in United States history. 

    A Quick American Civil War History Lesson

    Before I get into the nitty-gritty of June 19, 1865, you need to have a bit of context so here’s the quickest timeline I can give you to let you know where in history we are:

    • November 6, 1860 – Republican Party candidate for antislavery, Abraham Lincoln, was elected the 16th President of the United States.
    • April 1861 – 11 Southern states had seceded from the Union.

    A Not-So-Fun Fun Fact! Florida was the third state to secede from the Union on January 10, 1881.

    • Lots of famous battles happened. You’ve probably at least heard of one.
    • January 1, 1863 – President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, stating that all individuals held as slaves were freed.
    • More famous battles happened like Gettysburg and the Atlanta Campaign.
    • April 9, 1865 – Confederate General Lee surrendered to Union General Grant.
    • April 14, 1865 – President Lincoln was assassinated (and a country mourned).

    You’re probably wondering, “what does any of this have to do with a date that comes two months after your timeline?” GREAT QUESTION!

    June 19, 1865 and Its Legacy 

    While President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on New Year’s Day 1863, mass communication was not readily available as it is today. (But seriously can you imagine Abe tweeting? He probably uses the top hat emoji at the end of all his tweets.) It took time to get proclamations, laws, and any kind of news to places around the country, AND there was a war going on ABOUT the very same people that the proclamation frees.

    So, now we’re at June 19, 1865. Union Army General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas tasked with two jobs: bring Texas under some form of normalcy post-war and proclaim to the masses about General Order No. 3 – slavery had ended in the United States, and now, it was officially over in Texas.

    But General Order No. 3 did not simply bring the end of slavery. It brought the reemergence of similar words used at the beginning of the United States when the Declaration of Independence declared freedom from Great Britain:

    “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and freedoms of property between former masters and slaves.”

    Come 1866, celebrations stated. That first year, the celebration was called “Jubilee Day,” and other celebrations were used as a way to help newly freed slaves receive instructions on voting. The next year led to a celebration under the Freemen’s Bureau – mainly because state-sponsored segregation was coming out in full-force in public facilities. By the 1890s, Jubilee Day became known as “Juneteenth.”

    However, the world was not kind at the turn of the twentieth century. Globally, there was economic decline, the War to End All Wars, and the Great Depression. New constitutions for states helped to disenfranchise black people, and Jim Crow laws were passed to create second-class citizenry. Gladys L. Knight wrote that celebrations also may have declined as some were becoming ashamed of their ancestral past.

    A bright spot made its way through in 1938 when Texas governor James V. Allred issued a proclamation making “Emancipation Day” a date for observance, and: 

    “do urge all members of the Negro race in Texas to observe the day in a manner appropriate to its importance to them.”

    Over 40 years later in 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas through the efforts of African-American state legislator Al Edwards. Many states have since started to have conversations about making Juneteenth a state holiday and, potentially, a national holiday.

    Other Historically Important June 19th Events

    As a historian, I would be remiss to not mention other historically important events that occurred on June 19th more than likely as a result of June 19, 1865 (I say ‘more than likely’ because Newton’s Third Law may have brought us to these events through other avenues, but we will never know because history is literally in the past).

    June 19, 1964 

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed in the United States Senate, 73 – 27. The previous June, President Kennedy urged the nation to guarantee equal treatment of all United States citizens regardless of race. President Kennedy continued to propose to Congress that the legislation should address voting rights, segregation, and nondiscrimination among other topics.

    November 22, 1963 changed the course of history with the president’s assassination (maybe it says something that both presidents who worked for equality for all were killed, but I’m not here to talk about presidential conspiracy theories). Lyndon B. Johnson took office and campaigned for the late President’s ideas. The House of Representatives stalled on passing the bill, and the senate all filibustered, but on June 19, 1964, both houses of Congress had passed the bill. President Johnson signed the historic legislation into law July 2, 1964.

    June 19, 1968 

    The Poor People’s March, also known as the Solidarity March, occurred on June 19, 1968, a few short months after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., arguably the face of the Civil Rights Movement. Led by Ralph Abernathy, longtime friend of the late Dr. King and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an estimated 50,000 demonstrators marched from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. Speakers such as the champion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, spoke to those in attendance, urging Congress for an Economic Bill of Rights.


    While researching a bit more for this article, I read Annette Gordon-Reed’s book On Juneteenth. Gordon-Reed used “coda” as their term for conclusion in their book. I wanted to end this with some of Gordon-Reed’s (pg. 12) words as they eloquently explain what I talked about today:

    “Such a thing should be celebrated far and wide.”  


    Congressional Research Service. (2020, June 3). Juneteenth: Fact sheet.

    Davis, K.C. (2020, June 12). Juneteenth: Our other independence day. Smithsonian Magazine. 

    Davis, M. (2020, June 19). National archives safeguards original ‘Juneteenth’ general order. National Archives News.

    Gordon-Reed, A. (2021). On Juneteenth. Liveright Publishing Corporation.

    National Archives Foundation (2021). Civil Rights Act of 1964

    Tikkanen, A.  (2021). Poor people’s campaign. Britannica.

    Waxman, O.B. (2020, June 17).   Activists are pushing to make Juneteenth a national holiday: Here’s the history behind their fight . Time.

  • May: Mental Health Awareness Month
    mental health awareness month banner

    What is Mental Health?

    Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. According to a national survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 47.6 million people, or one in five adults, in the United States experience mental illness each year.

    Chances are you or someone you know may be living with mental health symptoms. Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

    • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
    • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
    • Family history of mental health problems
    • Prevalence of Mental Health

    Nearly 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year. Anxiety and Depression are among the most common mental illnesses in America. Suicide rates across all ages increased about 33% from 1999 to 2019. In 2019, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

    • 12 million adults seriously thought about suicide
    • 3.5 million adults made a plan
    • 1.4 million adults attempted suicide
    • More than 47,500 people have died by suicide

    Mental Health in College

    The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD) is an international organization comprised of colleges and universities within the US and other countries. The AUCCCD works to be the “higher education leaders for collegiate mental health”. Each year the AUCCCD administers their annual survey to affiliated colleges’ and universities’ counseling centers to understand the scope of rising mental health numbers and how they are impacting campuses. In 2019, the AUCCCD surveyed 562 counseling.

    Prevalent concerns among students

    • Anxiety (60.7%)
    • Depression (48.6%)
    • Stress (47.0%)
    • Family/Relationship Concerns (29.0%)
    • Academic performance difficulties (26.2%)
    • Social isolation / loneliness (17.5%)
    • Trauma (17.2%)
    • Suicidal thoughts (14.4%)
    • Eating/Body image concerns (13.6%)

    In 2019, the demand for Mental Health services on college campuses saw an 87% increase, serving about 13% of their campus population.

    According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Suicide remains a critical public health issue, even as public awareness continues to increase.

    Attempted/Completed Suicide Rates

    • 235 Students Attempted Suicide while enrolled
    • 35 Students died by suicide while enrolled as a student


    • 815 Students sent for psychological reasons
    • 605 Students admitted for psychological reasons

    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities (CDC, 2021).

    Supporting Mental Health

    Talk about Mental Health

    While 1 in 5 people will experience a diagnosable mental health condition in their lives, 5 out of 5 people will go through challenging time that affects their mental health. There are simple things that every person can say or do to help the people in their life who are struggling to get through the tough times. (MHA, 2021).

    Practice active listening

    Active listening is different than just hearing what a person has to say. A good active listener:

    • puts everything aside and gives their complete attention to the person who is talking
    • asks open-ended questions to get more details about the topic that is being discussed
    • take time to summarize what you’ve been told and make sure you understand

    Don’t Compare

    If a friend or loved-one is going through a tough situation and they come to you for support, you might feel tempted to tell them about something that happened to you and how you were able to get through it. It’s okay to share about similar experiences, but be careful not to compare. It can make someone feel like their pain isn’t valid. 

    Ask what you can do

    It can be tempting to assume what would be helpful to someone who is struggling, but it’s always better to ask them what they need from you. If you ask and get a response like, “nothing, I’m fine,” offer up a few suggestions for things you would be willing to do

    Don’t Judge

    To be truly supportive of someone, you need to put your personal opinions and biases aside. They may be struggling because of a mistake that they made, or you may think that they are overreacting, but you will never know what it is truly like to be that person in this moment, and criticism is not helpful to their recovery.

    Offer to join them

    When someone is going through a time of sadness or uncertainty, their emotions can take over and leave them feeling paralyzed and unable to take care of life’s obligations. Offering to go with someone to help them take care of responsibilities like walking the dog, going to the grocery store, etc. can help give a sense of accomplishment.

    Know when more serious help is needed

    Sometimes the support you can offer won’t be enough. Don’t be afraid to encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional and offer to help them find a provider if needed.

    Connecting with Others

    It’s possible to be surrounded by people and still feel alone. It’s the connections we make with other people that help enrich our lives and get us through tough times, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to make those connections. Research shows it can take 50 hours for someone you don't know that well to turn into a true friend (Hall, 2019). During the week, Americans watch an average of 2.5 hours of TV per day, but only spend half an hour per day socializing (USDL, 2018). The number of friendships you have early in your adult life and the closeness of those relationships can influence your wellbeing 30 years later (Carmichael, et al., 2015).

    Tips for Connecting

    • Connect with others at places you already go to
    • Use shared experiences as conversation starters
    • Make time for social activities
    • Accept an invitation
    • Ask someone to join you

    Create Healthy Routines   

    As individuals living in our everyday lives, we don’t always just have one or two things to worry about. Many may have classes to attend, homework, tests, pets, children, bills, work, family, social life, etc.

    It can feel impossible to get everything done, let alone take care of yourself – especially if you’re already struggling with a mental health concern like depression or anxiety. By creating routines, we organize our days in such a way that taking care of tasks and ourselves becomes a pattern that makes it easier to get things done without having to think hard about them.

    When it comes to diet, sleep and exercise, having good, strong routines is linked to improved mental and physical health (Haines, et al., 2013). People with more daily routines have lower levels of distress when facing problems with their health or negative life events (Williams, 2000). It takes an average of 66 days for a behavior to become a habit, but for some it can take as long as 8 1/2 months (Lally, et al., 2010).

    Tips for Success

    • Start small and plan ahead
    • Add to your existing habits
    • Make time for the things you enjoy
    • Reward for small victories
    • It’s okay if you miss a day


    Below are a list of different resources available both on and off campus

    UNF Campus Resources

    • Counseling Center students have access to both group and individual counseling
    • Recreation and Wellness offers basic mediation, relaxation practices, and yoga.
    • PERCH provides necessary community mental health continuum components to support and enhance UNF’s existing services
    • Interfaith Center supports the religious and non-religious identities of students, and provide distinctive programs and services for students

    Community Resources

    Conduct your own Brief Screening

    Brief screenings are the quickest way to determine if you or someone you care about should connect with a behavioral health professional. Think of these as a checkup from your neck up. This program is completely anonymous and confidential, and immediately following the brief questionnaire you will see your results, recommendations, and key resources. Visit MindWise Innovations.

    Understand providers

    It’s good to know the different types of providers and how they each can help you. Sometimes knowing what you need can help you find who you need:

    • Therapist/Counselor: help you with your thoughts, feelings and wellness plans
    • Psychiatrist: can prescribe medication (and may also do therapy)
    • Rehabilitation specialist: helps you build skills for daily life
    • Case manager: can coordinate your services
    • Peer specialist: person with a mental health condition who is trained to help others with their recovery

    Psychology Today

    Psychology Today is the world’s largest mental health and behavioral online science destination. It is the original and largest publishing enterprise that is exclusively dedicated to human behavior. PsychologyToday is the world’s largest portal to psychotherapy; it includes free access to thousands of professionals. You can find someone that you’re your mental health needs on their website.

    Open Path Collective 

    Open Path Collective is a non-profit nationwide network of mental health professionals dedicated to providing in-office and online mental health care—at a steeply reduced rate—to individuals, couples, children, and families in need. Therapists provide affordable, in-office and online psychotherapy sessions between $30 and $60. Find Care on Open Path Collective's Website.


    1. Carmichael, C. L., Reis, H. T., Duberstein, P. R. (2015). In your 20s it’s quantity, in your 30s it’s quality: The prognostic value of social activity across 30 years of adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 30, 95–105.
    2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Preventing Suicide. Retrieved from Risk and Protective Factors
    3. Haines, J., McDonald, J., O’Brien, A., Sherry, B., Bottino, C., Scmidt, M.E., Taveras, E.M. (2013) Healthy habits, happy homes: randomized trial to improve household routines among pre-school-aged children. JAMA Pediatrics, 167,1072-1090. 
    4. Hall, J. A. (2019). How many hours does it take to make a friend? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(4), 1278–1296.
    5. Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C.H.M., Potts, H.W.W., Wardle, J. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 40, 998-1009.
    6. Leviness, P., Groman, K., Braun, L., Koenig, L., & Bershad, C. (2019). AUCCCD Annual Survey: 2019. Retrieved from Association for University College Counseling Center Directors Annual Survey 
    7. Mental Health America, The State of Mental Health in America – 2021 Statistics
    8. Mental Health Screening
    9. NAMI How to Help a Friend
    10. Post University Blog: Your Mind Matters
    11. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2014). SAMHSA’s working definition of trauma and principles and guidance for a trauma-informed approach. Rockville, MD. 
    12. US Dept. of Labor. (2018). American time use survey.
    13. Williams, J. (2000) Effects of activity limitation and routinization on mental health. The Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, 20,100S-105S.
    14. Talking with someone about their mental health
    15. Mental Health America, Creating Healthy Boundaries
    16. Mental Health America, Connecting with Others
    17. Mental Health America, Supporting Others
    18. Mental Health America, Seven tips for talking to a loved one about their mental health
  • April: Legislative Trends in Higher Education




     The Florida Senate and the Florida House of Representatives together are known as the Florida Legislature, which is one of Florida’s three branches of government. The other two branches are the Executive and Judicial. Our Florida Senate is composed of 40 members, elected from single-member districts across the state. The Florida Legislature meets in session every year for sixty (60) consecutive days.

     This year, the Florida legislative session began on March 3, 2021 and runs through April 20, 2021, but what does this mean for you? There are a lot of issues being addressed this session that can impact higher education at the state level, but quite a few changes happening legislatively at the Federal level also. There is nothing wrong with staying informed!

    *Updates are based on information available at the time of publication and are subject to change during the active session period. 

    1. Emergency Relief/College Affordability 

     Emergency Relief and College Affordability are two important topics for everybody right now. With the COVID pandemic passing the 1-year mark, many individuals have received stimulus funds from the Federal government but are still struggling economically. Businesses and higher education institutions are also struggling while facing additional budget deficits for the upcoming year also. In addition to the Federal CARES Act that was passed providing Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds, the Florida Legislature is moving Senate Bill (SB) 86 forward.

    SB 86, Student Financial Aid (aka Bright Futures Bill), was placed on the Senate Special Order Calendar for 4/7/2021 and will likely see a vote. Senator Baxley filed a strike-all amendment that passed removing the reduction of a Bright Futures award amount tied to student enrollment in a certificate or degree program on a specialized list, created by the Board of Governors (BOG) or State Board of Education (SBE).

    2. Student Safety and Wellness

    Safety and wellness are both important topics that often draw attention during the legislative season. There is rising concern regarding the increased rates of anxiety and depression among college-aged students since the start of the pandemic. At the Federal level, Congress is hoping to address this and delayed access to care with the TREAT Act or Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment Act (H.R. 708/S.168). This would create temporary license reciprocity for all practioners or professionals in all states for in-person or telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Another safety issue is related to guns on campus or gun control. This continues to be an important issue within the educational field in general due to the continued instances of violence in schools. Here in Florida, the Legislature saw the introduction of House Bill (HB) 6001: Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons or Firearms (aka Campus Carry Bill). This bill would allow individuals to carry concealed weapons on campus grounds and remove the requirement of a concealed carry license. This bill has not seen any movement since March 2, when it was read on the House floor. A version of this bill was proposed in previous session years and was previously not successful. 

    3. (Non)/Inclusive Opportunities

    A spotlight issue for the United States and Higher Education is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. After a tumultuous year with several high-profile events across the nation, the Federal government put forward several pieces of governance to address inclusivity. President Biden issued Executive Order 13985: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government and Executive Order 13988: Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. Additionally, The Supreme Court of the United States or SCOTUS, in a 6-3 decision led by Justice Gorsuch, held that Title VII anti-discrimination clause of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to gender identity and sexual orientation.

    The U.S. House of Representatives also recently passed the Dream and Promise Act and DACA is preserved… for now. Formal legislative action will be necessary to remove any future ambiguity, but it appears protections for undocumented and immigrant students will be restored and protected under this Congress.

    Within the state of Florida, the Legislature is reviewing HB 1475: Sex-specific Student Athletic Teams or Sports (aka Trans Sports Ban Bill). This Bill would require certain athletic teams to be designated based on a student’s biological sex and prohibits teams designated as “female” from allowing male students. The Bill has not seen any movement since March 24 when it was referred to the House Education and Employment Committee. 

    4. Civic Engagement

    Free Speech on campus is a major topic of discussion among students, faculty and higher education institutions. While often these interests align, sometimes these different populations on a campus may have opposing viewpoints or even ideas on what “free speech” truly looks like.

    In the Florida Legislature, SB 264: Higher Education was read for a 2nd time on the Senate floor on April 1 and ultimately substituted for HB 233. That bill, Postsecondary Education (aka Intellectual Freedom Bill), passed the House on March 18 and is now on the Senate Special Order Calendar for early April, where it will likely see a vote. The Bill would require all public institutions to conduct an annual survey, as created by the BOG/SBE, to evaluate the availability of competing ideas on campus to be published annually. Additionally, the Bill includes provisions related to Student Government and individuals facing discipline/removal the ability to appeal directly to a VPSA. Most notably, the Bill includes proposed revisions to FL §1006.60 Codes of conduct; disciplinary measures, including defining minimum due process rights as timely notification, right to an advisor (including legal counsel) who can actively participate in the process, and referring to “student” and “student organization” as following identical procedures.

    Another important civic engagement issue is related to voting rights. Several states have proposed and passed various bills related to voter registration, absentee ballots and polling locations. At the Federal level, H.R. 1, the “For the People Act” passed the House on March 3rd, which is described as a historic and necessary equitable voting rights measure. The bill addresses voter access, election integrity and security, campaign finance, and ethics for all three branches of government.

    5. How to track bills and stay engaged?

    The Florida Legislature regular session convenes on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of each odd-numbered year, and on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in January of each even numbered year. This year, session began on March 2 and regular session runs through April 30, 2021. We are currently in the mid-way point if budget discussions do not require an additional extension of session time.

    If you would like to stay informed, you can track bills directly from the Florida Legislature website, which is updated regularly.  Additionally, the website includes a “Find Your Elected Officials in Florida” page where you can type your address and find your district representative.

    It’s generally easy to get updates and news about what is happening out of Washington, D.C., but state level decisions have a large impact also. Staying informed and aware of your representatives and their voting history, agenda can ensure that you also have a voice in these state decisions.  

    More Information:

    Created by Rachel Winter, Dean of Students
  • March: Spring Broke


    This semester is quickly coming to an end and while a lot of us are sad about spring break being canceled this year, it might save you money! We have gathered some interesting statistics surrounding the use of drugs and alcohol during spring break and the money that college students spend on them on average.

    Four words that often come to mind when thinking about spring break for college students are the beach, parties, alcohol, and drugs. It is reported that during spring break, approximately 42% of students get drunk at least once and 11% of students “blackout” or pass out due to drinking. (1) 

    Talking Money:  

    According to research from LendEDU, in 2017, about 30.6% of students planned on using their student loans to pay for their spring break. That would be approximately 2.38 million students. Students are also using their money from their loans to pay for other things besides spring break and school:

    • About a quarter (23.8%) of students surveyed stated they used their student loan money to pay for alcohol, a third (33.4%) said they bought clothes and other accessories, and 6.6% said they bought drugs. (2)

    Part of the issue is not what students are spending their money on, but the fact that 49.8% of “college students incorrectly believed the government would forgive their federal student loan balance" (2). These students are using their student loan money thinking that it will eventually be forgiven by the government, not knowing that they will eventually have to pay back what they spend.


    Freedom is often associated with the college experience. Along with this new-found freedom comes many opportunities for students to try new things, including drugs. Approximately 33% of college students have taken non-prescribed stimulant prescription drugs at least once during their college career, for example, Adderall. (5)

    • Forty-seven percent of college students report having tried Marijuana at least once.(6)
    • In 2015, 23% of college students surveyed reported using an illicit drug in the past month. (7)  
    • At UNF, in fall 2020, 41% of students issued illegal drug-related charges were found "responsible." (45 "responsible" findings out of 111 total charges) 

    Most Common Drugs on College Campuses: (6)

    • Alcohol
    • Marijuana
    • Adderall
    • Ritalin
    • Xanax
    • Steroids
    • Cocaine
    • Psychedelics
    • Ecstasy

    Did you know: “A federal or state conviction for possession of illegal drugs, conspiring to sell them or selling them may disqualify you from receiving federal student aid, including grants and new student loans.” (8)  


    On average, college students spend between $500 and $900 a year on alcohol. This equals between $42 and $75 a month (3). Estimate how much you spend with this alcohol spending calculator so that you can see how much you could be saving!  Alcohol spending calculator - Rethinking Drinking

    • According to statistics of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 80% of college students drink, and 75% of them are under the legal drinking age of 21. (4)
    • At UNF, in fall 2020, 56% of students issued Alcohol-related charges were found "responsible." (114 "responsible" findings out of 216 total charges)

    Too much fun?  

    Family vs. Friends - Students are less likely to binge drink when visiting family over spring break and are more likely to binge drink when on vacation with friends. (9)

    • More than 1,800 college students die of alcohol-related causes each year, according to a 2014 report by The New York Times. (10)
    • The CDC reports that in the United States, 100 people die from drug overdoses daily, with a majority of them being prescription drug related. (11)

    “An estimated 110,000 students between the ages of 18-24 are arrested every year for an alcohol-related violation, such as public drunkenness or driving under the influence.” (12)

    Binge Drinking  

    Binge drinking can be defined as excessive drinking over a short period of time, typically 5 or more drinks over the span of two hours.

    • According to a report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly half of students who drink have reported binge drinking.(13)  
    • Binge drinking has resulted in approximately 1,825 deaths of college students (ages 18-24) every year. (14)
    • “The primary cause of death is alcohol poisoning, where even the automatic breathing functions of the body become impaired due to high levels of alcohol in the blood. Similarly, excessive levels of alcohol can impair the gag reflex, leading to the possibility of a person drowning in their own vomit.” (14)

    Substance Abuse: 

    In the U.S., about 31% of college students report symptoms of alcohol abuse.(12)

    Substance Abuse Signs (12)

    • Decreased interest in classes and hobbies
    • Drastic changes in academic performance
    • Changes in sleeping habits and weight
    • Withdrawing from friends or family
    • Mood swings, depression, or irritability
    • Risky behavior

     Where to get help: 


    2. Spring Break Student Loan Study from LendEDU
    8. How Drug Convictions Affect Student Loans – US News
    9. Grekin, E. R., Sher, K. J., & Krull, J. L. (2007). College spring break and alcohol use: effects of spring break activity *. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs68(5), 681.

    Created by Rebecca Weiner, Office Manager and Lori Ferguson, MSW Intern and Support Specialist 

  • February: Meditation + Decompressing

      feb banner, white flower floating on water  

    The school year and the new semester are upon us and classes are under-toe. This is the time when we find ourselves beginning to stress about all the things that are going on in our lives: Homework assignments, Work, Personal relationships, Family, Me-time. How do we manage everything and everyone in our lives and take time to care for ourselves?

    One good way to de-stress and decompress is to meditate or find another mindfulness practice to instill into your daily and/or weekly routine. Often, individuals might feel that this is not time well-spent, however studies have shown that meditation can be quite beneficial for the mind, body, and soul and can even rewire our brains.

    How to Meditate

    1. Get comfy!
      1. Find a comfortable place to sit and know you will be still for a few minutes
    2. Set a Time Limit (Two-three minutes as a beginner)
      1. Try five or 10 minutes if you are more frequent to meditative practices
    3. Notice your Breath
      1. This will help keep you in the present moment
      2. Notice where you are breathing (stomach, chest, etc.) and focus on that
    4. Be Patient with Yourself
      1. Your mind might wander and that’s okay, just bring it back to your breath
    5. After the time limit has passed, Close with Kindness and Reflect
      1. Don’t be hard on yourself or judgmental
      2. Congratulate yourself that you tried
      3. How did it make you feel? Did your mind wander often? Did you have to continuously bring yourself back to your breath?
    6. Repeat Steps 1-5

      Make Meditation a Habit

    Adding anything to your daily routine can be difficult and there always seems to be an excuse why you didn’t or couldn’t do it. It might be a good idea to first think of when the best time for you to fit it into your routine would be. For some, it might be first thing in the morning, but for others, it might be midday or just before bed. The most important thing for you to do before you start is figure out when it would be best for your busy schedule.


    Set a reminder. With how busy our schedules can be, we often find that we simply forgot to do x, y, or z. Especially when adding something new to your routine, setting a friendly reminder for yourself can ensure you do not forget. 
    Meditate. Once that reminder goes off, remember that it is important for your health that you take the time to sit with yourself and meditate. Start off with one three-minute session of meditation and then ease your way into five 10-minute sessions of meditation. It might be setting yourself up for failure if you have never meditated before and start at 10 minutes. This is supposed to be a challenge, but it’s not supposed to be impossible.

    Challenge yourself today by meditating for one minute. Next week, see if you can meditate for three minutes. You’ll be able to meditate for 10 minutes in no time!

    Why Meditate?

    Meditation and spending time alone and in silence can help build the relationship that we have with ourselves. Once we have a strong and positive relationship with ourselves, we will be able to have a strong and positive relationships with others.

    Meditation is a good stress-reducer and it can even help you start to focus better on big projects at work, assignments at school, or in your personal life. By meditating frequently, you can begin to understand your pain, understand your feelings, and reduce the loudness inside your brain.

    More Information:

    Headspace App
    Guided Imagery and Meditation Resources from UCSF
    How to Mediate from

     Created by Francesca Brant, Program Coordinator

  • January: Successful Spring Semester

    start today, future you will love it

     With winter break behind us and a new semester of virtual learning ahead - we want to ensure you are prepared to take on the 2021 spring semester! We have listed a few tips and tricks to help you succeed along the way, it's all about what works for you.

    Start Planning: Planning out your semester is one of the tried-and-true ways to stay ahead! Planning allows you to feel prepared, can help with motivation and confidence, increases productivity, and can lead to success!

    • Get a planner! Or try free printouts available online (can also be used digitally!):
      • Monthly, weekly, daily 
    • Want a digital planner? Try these free apps:
      • Microsoft Outlook - great way to keep track of your UNF emails and set up your calendar
      • Google Calendar - offers daily, weekly, and monthly views
      • Trello - great for working with teams and groups projects

    Study Sessions: Get out of your residence hall room, go to the library, take advantage of their study rooms or the various study spaces across campus. Here some other study habits that can aid you moving forward:

    • Lo-Fi Music: The brain picks out the differences in sound and in turn, helps it get into a mindset of focus.  
    • Pomodoro Technique - work for 25 mins, break for 5 mins. Every 4th break can be longer than 5 mins.
    • Set SMART goals
    • Reward yourself when you complete tasks.
    • Don't be afraid to ask from help from your professors, advisors, and fellow students.

    Remove Distractions: Distractions are a great way to get behind! Make your time a priority. Here are some easy ways to stay focused on what needs to be done:

    • Phone Apps
      • Flora - Green Focus: Set time to block distracting apps and grow trees. If you use your phone while growing the tree, the tree will die. Partners w/ to plant real trees.
      • Plantie - Stay focused: grow and harvest fruit while staying focused on your work. Tracks your stats.
      • Study Bunny - Focus Timer: Time your studying and earn coins to buy items for your bunny. Can color code your studying to keep track of how long you study for different classes. Can add a to-do list, flashcards.
    • Computer extensions
      • StayFocusd is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that helps you stay focused on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites.
      • SelfControl is a free and open-source application for macOS that lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet. Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist, and click "Start."

     Preparing yourself to tackle the challenges of the semester can help you cope with added stressors and support your own mental health, which is also important! Don't forget, UNF has great resources available to students on campus and virtually. You can easily access these resources from the comfort of your own space:

    And some more, just for fun:

     Created by: Jocelyn Posos, Assistant Director and Rebecca Weiner, Office Manager