Within Ursinus’s office of Prevention and Advocacy there is a group of students working towards a greater campus culture change around substance usage. These ten students are formally called Ucrew Peer Educators, and the acronym of Ucrew stands for cultivating respect, education, and wellness, which details the group’s values perfectly.
These ten educators are trained student leaders who want to raise awareness about safety, and educate others about healthy substance usage and wellness. The Ucrew members for the Spring 2023 semester are as follow: Diane Imboden ‘23, Lizzie Elliot ‘23, Avery Tomeo ‘23, Izzy Deal ‘23, Jenna Smith ‘23, Sophie Louis ‘24, Luke Ammazzalorso ‘24, Alexis Wood ‘24, Nalia Seibert ‘24, and Claire Burke ‘24. Each Ucrew member goes through lengthy training to learn about harm reduction and the most useful ways to promote health and wellness to the broader campus community. They educate about sobriety–if that is one’s path–and work to support those in any direction of their recovery journey.
Ucrew was founded in Fall of 2020, with the goal of promoting their ideals to the Ursinus community, leading to a safer and more educated campus as a whole. The members seek to change the campus culture around drugs and alcohol through harm reduction and education. Ucrew is funded by a state grant, and uses its funding to hold events focused on educating the broader campus about wellness. Their main objective is to make sure students feel supported in their social environment on campus, so they never feel judged or pressured to consume drugs or alcohol. The members work to help others to feel safe, and encourage supportive mental health and wellness when it comes to making important behavioral choices.
Through their work, they have strived towards making Ursinus a recovery friendly campus, a title which Ursinus would be the first private college to hold. A recovery friendly campus supports those in the recovery process, and has the necessary infrastructure to do so. Ucrew members encouraged students to sign the Okanagan Charter, which allows them to embed health and wellness aspects into the campus culture. The Okanagan Charter is an international charter that aims to promote health in post-secondary schools across the nation. Some other events that Ucrew holds to promote wellness are self-care kahoots, tabling events, sober parties, and concerts– to name a few of their most notable campus actions.
This team has fostered a strong relationship amongst the members and across organizations on campus. Avery Tomeo ‘23, a seasoned member of Ucrew, explained how she loves the team dynamic: “I love being involved with the team because we are working towards the same goals. Everyone is compassionate about this job, always expressing great ways to try and change culture on our campus. All my team members are very kind and supportive and make a wonderful group of people to work with!”
Another member, Luke Ammazzalorso ‘24, states why he joined Ucrew himself, “I wanted to be able to have a positive impact on our community by using my struggles and experiences with drugs and alcohol.” Ammazzalorso also shared why being a part of Ucrew is so important to him: “ I want people struggling with substance use and wellness in general, to feel that there is a group of people here to support and help them in any way they can.” These individuals are hardworking, and their efforts on this campus do not go unnoticed. Aylin Castillo ‘23, stated how she recognizes Ucrew’s diligence on campus: “They’re always holding events and encouraging sobriety to those that need it!”
Look out for Ucrew applications later this semester, as half the team is graduating and thus will be hiring more campus Peer Educators! There will also be chances for collaboration with clubs, organizations, and Greek life, so be sure to message the group for details about involvement if their mission fits your club’s goals! Keep an eye out for upcoming events by email or follow them on Instagram @ursinus_ucrew
*Disclaimer: Jenna Smith, the author of this piece, is a Peer Educator*