Bringing smiles to residences

This year, Laurier students are going to be asked a simple yet perplexing question: “What made you smile today?”

While most probably won’t see the grand philosophy behind this question, Laurier Residence Life and campus partners are looking at taking the smile beyond the face.

That is, promoting positivity across campus.

To do this, Laurier is looking at collaborating with The Smile Epidemic (TSE) for another year of optimism.

TSE is a non-profit organization that specializes in promoting happiness and spreading positivity in daily life. It was incorporated into Laurier residence life programming last year and saw a great deal of success.

However, Residence Life is currently analyzing the program before it can be brought back to the university.

“We’re still working out the details with them,” explained Dave Shorey, Laurier’s associate director of residence education at Laurier. “There were a couple of modifications that we could make with the program so that’s where we’ve been going back and forth,” he said.

Of this, Shorey explained that the timing of TSE could greatly influence its success on campus.

According to Shorey, TSE is a tool more appreciated and useful during times of high stress such as December or January.

“It’s honestly a matter of if we’re hitting the right time,” he said.

Another deciding factor is whether or not to create a new student position to act as a liaison between TSE and Laurier’s Res Life.

The position, which will be called a “Residence Education Provider Position,” will supposedly bridge the gap between campus partners and residences. The position will learn about TSE and bring it to their don teams and explain a more targeting method of what’s to come.

“They’re going to be more readily prepared to help with this program and be able to walk their peers through the materials,” Shorey explained.

However, what Shorey wants to bring back from The Smile Epidemic was its interactive component.

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(Photos by Heather Davidson)

In its previous year, students and faculty members were asked to share a moment in their life that made them smile and write it on a sticky-note. Dons and residence life staff would collect the moments and display them on bulletin boards or communal walls.

Others would be “smile-bombed” which meant a person’s room would be decorated in notes that said compliments from friends and peers.

“There was an interactive component there because you’re exposing a bit of yourself to your peers,” Shorey added. “There was a lot of unscheduled programming that came out of it.”

Gabby Arvanitis, a second year student who is a don in King Street Residence is thrilled to hear that TSE might be returning for a second season of smiles.

“For first years, they’re so new and they’re only just transitioning into school,” she explained. “They can get home sick, depressed, there are all these student issues that come up.”

“It’s important for people to find the good in everything.”

Laurier dons and Residence Life are expected to hear more about TSE in coming months.

Shorey elaborated one last time about the importance of spreading optimism in a university environment.

“You can very easily go forth with the negative and by encouraging the positive solutions in life, you are changing your frame of mind,” he said.

“That’s why I think it’s a valuable program.”

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