New SHARPP blog uses social media to inform students
Published: Friday, October 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
The University of New Hampshire’s Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) unveiled a new student-run blog in late September. The blog, “Kickin’ it with Kenna,” provides information to students about sexual assault, stalking and abusive relationships. Because social media and the Internet are feasable means to connect with students, SHARPP’s new student blog is easily accessed and shared.
Kenna Smith, a junior social work major, is a volunteer at SHARPP. She got into the social work program after taking an introductory course for the major that required 25 hours of field experience. After searching for an internship, Smith came across SHARPP.
When she looked at the description of SHARPP, she found herself frozen. Smith saw the elucidation of advocate training and immediately signed up. She completed the 40 mandatory hours of instruction to become an advocate.
Smith has worked in the SHARPP office as a secretary since spring of 2011.
“After the first day of training, I was hooked, and I haven’t left since,” Smith said.
Smith said she is glad that she is able to reach out to others in different ways. She noted a video segment that will soon be making its way onto the blog where she will ask students about issues regarding sexual violence on college campuses.
As both an employee and a volunteer, Smith said she sees the impact that the program brings to UNH.
“As a young woman, this program represents possibilities,” Smith said. “SHARPP is a starting ground for individuals who have felt something was taken from them, and, in coming here, they get to feel like a piece of them has returned.”
Although the blog started only a month ago, SHARPP staff members approached Smith in early September asking if she would be interested in becoming a more hands-on voice for their program. Mary Mayhew, SHARPP’s program director, approved the blog a week later.
According to Mayhew, SHARPP is always looking for creative ways to encourage constructive dialogue on consent, healthy relationships and other issues that touch on students’ lives.
“We wanted (the blog) to be relevant to UNH students’ experiences, so the choice of having a student write the blog made sense,” Mayhew said. “Kenna is a really thoughtful and well-informed student, who is also outgoing, and very connected to a lot of other students through her participation in student organizations.”
SHARPP’s aim for the blog is to show a real student reflecting on serious issues in a relatable way.
“If a faculty or staff member wrote the blog, we wouldn’t have the perspective,” Mayhew said. “And it probably wouldn’t be something students want to read.”
Mayhew also added that “Kickin’ It with Kenna” can be a place where students can experience another student’s insights, and that the blog challenges behaviors that sometimes feel like the norm.
The blog itself is something SHARPP has never done before.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Mayhew said. “We’re lucky enough to have a student who was enthusiastic about the idea, and who we felt was confident would do a great job.”
Even though the blog is not an advice column, it contains a mix of information, much of which is supported by statistics and research obtained from the SHARPP website, the New Hampshire Coalition, and many other government-run hotlines for abuse.
Smith said she wants people to get information and to generate dialogue about college campuses and the taboo issues regarding sexual violence.
“When people read my blog, I want them to really learn about an issue and have a place to start a discussion,” she said.
Though the blog is only in its beginning stages, Smith hopes it becomes a forum for people to talk to her and to discuss important issues.
“I update my blog once a week, and the idea is to make it every Monday, unless an event in the news or on campus really strikes me,” Smith said.