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October 2005

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Julianne Scibetta

Resources for Emergency Preparedness

By Julianne Scibetta, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia

When Persephone disappeared from the Grecian fields, her mother mourned and nature followed in kind. Across the grades of education we see our own Demeters as late August's sun slips into September. We also see a gamut of students perhaps wishing they could be toted somewhere other than school.

New schools, classes, adventures, haircuts, friends, challenges, fears, anxieties. As the slate is cleared and nature sheds in preparation for new growth, so are students stripped of their comforts and securities. Nowhere are the effects of this kind of anxiety more apparent than in the most apparent measurement of success - class performance. In student services and learning centers, we are at a pivotal point - perhaps the very last point - to provide students with the resources and confidence they need to cope with change.

The beginning of a new school year and separation anxiety may not be the only concerns on the minds of students. This year has been wrought with natural disasters - sometimes with unpredictable and uncontrollable consequences. Earlier we experienced tension on the west coast as several powerful earthquakes struck, perhaps signaling "The Big One." Study abroad students may be experiencing anxiety and fears resulting from the July attacks in London. You may encounter students whose possessions were put in danger by wildfires. We are still watching the South emerge from being submerged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In the middle of all this we came very soberly upon the fourth anniversary of September 11th. While we may throw around terms for Millennials to describe their sheltered existence, call them jaded by violent television and video games, dispassionate, apathetic, unaffected youth - let's not forget that they are just as human as the rest of us, and their academic performance is affected by such events.

In light of such a devastating year, I'd like to take this opportunity to provide you with resources for both you and for students to be able to take control of something and provide a sense of well-being and safety:

If your center or building currently does not have an emergency plan, please consider adopting one. In a time of panic no one will want to have to think - including you.

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