I've learned a lot through the Healthy Relationships program, and I'm really glad other students can experience the same thing.
SVC Student
The Healthy Relationship Initiative has won the National Mission Integration Award from the Association of Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities.

The Healthy Relationships Initiative

There is more to surviving and thriving in college than just academics. Relationships of all types, not just romantic, can be difficult to cultivate, and college is a key place in learning to manage expectations when dealing with others.

The Healthy Relationships Initiative assesses and addresses areas of need concerning dating and relationships through the use of:

  • Seminars - Spring Seminar Flyer
  • A weekend retreat
  • Residence Life staff training
  • Orientation events
  • Various programmed events

Some of the topics addressed with these events are:

  • Catholic Teachings and Sexuality
  • Understanding Men and Women
  • Dating and Hooking Up
  • Pornography
  • Values Auction
  • A Night Out as Friends and Communication
  • Social Media
  • Building Relationships
  • Recognizing Unhealthy Relationships
October 2020
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence impacts many people in many ways and at Saint Vincent College, we talk about how to help survivors all year long. During October, we want to focus on a core way to prevent domestic violence—by encouraging discussion about healthy relationships, their importance, and what they look like. We are talking about all kinds of relationships in our lives—family, friends, classmates, significant others, teammates, and so on. By highlighting healthy relationships this month, we hope to start an important conversation about healthy lives and communities. 

Healthy relationships bring out the best in you and make you feel good about yourself. A healthy relationship does not mean a “perfect” relationship. The relationships we form with other people, whether they are romantic or platonic, are vital to our mental and emotional wellbeing.Throughout the month of October, Saint Vincent and Blackburn Center, Westmoreland County’s domestic and sexual violence crisis center, will be sharing information about healthy relationships, recognizing the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships, and more, as well as giving you a chance to participate in some activities that let show examples of healthy relationships in your lives, including:

  • Meme Mania – create a meme based on one (or more) of the characteristics of a healthy relationship.
  • Scavenger Hunt – using the characteristics of a healthy relationship, earn points by completing specific tasks tied to these characteristics.
  • Fantastic Friendships – Submit a photo and explain how your friendship is built on the characteristics of a healthy relationship.
  •  #PurpleThursday – Wear purple on Thursday, October 29th to help raise awareness about domestic and dating violence. Purple, a color that has long been used by women seeking justice, is worn in October to not only raise awareness, but to also encourage conversation about domestic violence, with the goal of lessening it and building healthy relationships.  While women are the primary victims of domestic violence, both men and women can be victims. One in three women and one in four men have suffered abuse in relationships.

The Saint Vincent Wellness Center will feature student submissions on its Instagram feed, and students will also be entered into drawings that will take place throughout the month of October for special prizes.  There will also be an information table in the Carey Center Lounge one day each week.  Students should check the Saint Vincent portal and their stvincent.edu email every Monday in October for information about each week’s schedule.

How it Started

In 2010, a group of Saint Vincent College faculty, administrators and Benedictine monks joined with the Student Affairs office to assess the climate on the campus regarding relationships and dating, and to ascertain clear areas of need. 

From those efforts, we have created a programming model that is used to support our students in their efforts to create and establish healthy, lasting relationships. This Healthy Relationships Initiative now includes a for-credit course, a weekend retreat, Residence Life staff training, orientation events and other presentations and programs through the academic year. 

Through the Healthy Relationship programming, during which Church teaching is presented, students are discussing, arguing, comparing, considering and, finally, deciding how to best move forward in light of that teaching. 

For more information, contact the Office of Student Affairs at 724-805-2567 or StudentAffairs@stvincent.edu


Weekend Retreats

In recognition of the seminar students’ observation that hook-ups often occur due to low self-esteem, a weekend retreat featured confidence-building adventures such as whitewater rafting and rock climbing, with facilitated discussions in the evenings delving deeper into many of the seminar topics, including affirming Catholic teachings while working to reframe those teachings so they would better resonate in today’s culture, and reminding students they could start over no matter what they have done, in keeping with our Catholic focus of reconciliation and redemption.

Peer Educationpeer-education
Peer Education

With support from a Pennsylvania Department of Education “It’s On Us” grant, several students were trained to serve as peer educators by participating in the Healthy Relationships course and then attending a training retreat. These student leaders then presented to freshmen in First Year Seminar sessions about healthy vs. unhealthy relationships and the importance of values, communication and respect.

Assessment of this effort included appreciative comments from the freshmen:

“Great presentation that will stick with me for years, and I'm glad I was able to participate; it was a life changing conversation.”

“This was really eye-opening and good for evaluating relationships. The emphasis on self-worth was great and relatable to our age group.”

“Lots of valuable insight into my own relationship and personal improvements I could make.”

“I really needed to hear this right now. It brought some extremely important issues in my own relationship to my attention.”

“Very informative. I didn't know who I could talk to before this session, but now I know what resources are available.”