Not Just the Tenth Month: Understanding October Observances

Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier features editor

Kelsee Brady, Campus Carrier asst. features editor

Hispanic Heritage Month 

PrintHispanic Heritage month occurs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Senior Orgullo President Maria Ramirez said the event originally began as a week-long celebration in September during President Lyndon Johnson’s term (1963 – 1969). Then, President Ronald Reagan extended the awareness into a month-long celebration. 

Hispanic Heritage month begins during September because it marks the independence of several Latin American countries such as Chile, El Salvador and Guatemala. 

Ramirez said that Hispanic Heritage Month is important because it brings awareness to the Latino and Hispanic communities. For example, Ramirez said there are very few Hispanic and Latino representatives in the government and American television. She said that in recent years, there has been an increase, but it is still not significant. 

“I think as a minority, you feel like you are not being recognized,” Ramirez said. “I think this month allows everyone to just celebrate and analyze everything.” 

Having different representations of people in media such as a minorities like the Hispanic and Latino communities can give people a better understanding of other cultures. Ramirez said representation allows for the ability to educate on another’s teachings, religion, values and morals. According to Ramirez, this results in awareness and open-mindedness. 

On campus, Orgullo is a student organization aimed to bring awareness and embrace the Hispanic and Latino culture. Ramirez said that during the month, the organization will host a multitude of events to celebrate and embrace the culture. 

“Our group’s name, Orgullo, means pride,” Ramirez said. “So, I think we try to embrace the pride of our Latinx heritage or Hispanic heritage. Just allowing them and making sure they feel prideful for where they come from and the culture that has shaped them into who they are today.” 

One event that was featured during the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration was a game night where games such as Loteria, Pirinola and Ganicas were offered. Loteria is a game similar to Bingo where a card is given to each player. Instead of specific numbers that the players have to match, the numbers have been replaced with different characters’ faces. Ramirez said Loteria was originally associated with nobles until it was later distributed to the lower-classes. For this reason, the images would change depending on the social class. For example, she said that Catholics would have a very biblical oriented card with church images on it. However, the card has now evolved so everyone can play. 

“I think the people who did come out were very interested in all of the different games that we had,” Ramirez said. “They enjoyed being able to learn.” 

Some events that Orgullo will be hosting during the month of October for Hispanic Heritage Month include: I Stand With Immigrants on Oct. 22 and Dia De los Muertos Shrine Building on Oct. 23. 

Mental Illness Awareness Week 

brain copy.jpgRather than a month-long awareness, Mental Illness Awareness Week takes place from Oct. 6 through Oct. 12. 

“It is just a week to bring awareness and insight to the difficulties and the struggles that people with have some diagnoses and mental illness,” Katrina Meehan, assistant director of the Academic Success Center, said. “It just helps bring insight to what they go through.” 

Meehan said that mental illness can encompass a broad range of different diagnoses. For this reason, mental illness can have a broad definition. However, she said that one definition includes a person who has a chemical imbalance in their brain, where the brain does not function properly, which results in a mental illness. For example, Meehan said that mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder would fall into this category. 

“The number, the percentage, of students who do suffer from mental illness is just increasing on our campus,” Meehan said. 

Meehan said the increase of students with mental illness or who identify as neuro-diverse may be linked with the support offered on campus. For example, she said that a prospective student on the autism spectrum may look for smaller class sizes and an Academic Success Center. These characteristics provide individualized support if needed, according to Meehan. 

“Students that need more support are looking for a school that provides more support,” Meehan said. 

The Neurodiversity Support Group on campus allows students to support one another and normalize mental illness. Meehan said that the group even allows students to relate with one another because a student may be able to find a peer with the same diagnosis. 

As a facilitator for the group, Meehan said that bringing awareness to students with mental illness is important for peers and faculty. Awareness allows for others to understand and relate to that student’s daily life, according to Meehan. 

The denial or ignorance of mental illness can negatively affect a person. Meehan said that denial is impactful because, if a person with mental illness does not get treated, the situation will not get better. She said that college can feel harder than it actually is because that person is not getting the help they need through counseling and accommodations. 

According to Meehan, a person with an untreated mental illness may feel as if they can never get ‘out’ of that situation. 

“You kind of feel like you’re drowning, I guess in a sense,” Meehan said. “So, if you are not looking for that support somewhere, you may never feel like you can breathe.” 

Meehan recommends students that are concerned with their mental health or mental illness visit the Counseling Center. 

National Bullying Prevention Month 

October is also National Bullying Prevention Month. Professor of psychology Jerry Jennings said this month is when school teachers and counselors bring awareness to the issue. Bullying can be narrowed down to when an individual or group becomes targeted for being different in some way, according to Jennings. 

In an age of technology, bullying is no longer just the schoolyard definition of pulling pigtails. Jennings said there are other types such as cyberbullying. He said seen mostly in middle school and high school ages, the bully uses social media to send damaging or threatening messages to the victim. 

Jennings said that cyberbullying can also occur at any age because of the availability of social media. It is not just something that it associated with middle schoolers; it can happen to anyone, he said. 

“Somebody who has come out as gay or lesbian, some people make the decision to bully them because of their different lifestyle rather than learning to be accepting and tolerant of the uniquenesses of people,” Jennings said. 

Jennings sheds light on bullies by saying that more than likely they have been bullied in their life, too. He said that it could have been by a parent or sibling or even by peers. Then, the bully bullies someone else in order to express their anger, and it becomes a cycle. 

Jennings said if there is a situation where a person is speaking negatively about another, they should be confronted about that behavior. According to Jennings, the course of action taken in response to the negative speech determines what kind of person someone is. 

“So, are you a bystander or an up-stander,” Jennings said. “Are you somebody that is going to allow that behavior to take place? Or, are you going to be an up-stander and call out a person who is engaged in that behavior?” 

Being a bystander and up-stander can also apply on a college campus. Even though there are not many playground fights, there are still ways to improve communication and prevent negative speech. 

Jennings that there are certain topics to remember when conversing with other people in order to avoid bullying. First, recognize that everyone is different and that the world is better for that. Second, be respectful in communications with one another. Third, today’s political atmosphere requires good communication. Lastly, do not say something negative about another person while they are absent. According to Jennings, these day-to-day communication tips can help confront bullying, even on a college campus. 

Jennings also said that the student should never be afraid to speak out against bullying because there is a support system on campus. A student can visit the Counseling Center or their RA if they are concerned about being bullied, regardless of the media or platform. 

LGBT History Month 

In 1994, LGBT History Month began and in 1995, Christina Bucher, adviser to LISTEN, arrived at Berry College. According to Bucher, before she arrived, then-chaplain Larry Green attempted to start a group known as the Gay and Lesbian Awareness Society. 

“Shortly before I came to Berry, the then-chaplain, who was a man named Larry Green, had tried to start a group called GLAS, the Gay Lesbian Awareness Society, that was not met with open arms,” Bucher said. 

During Bucher’s early years at Berry, Rainbow Berry was established as an unofficial group that met off-campus. According to Bucher, a group of students formed a gay-straight alliance and titled it LISTEN in 2003. 

“It all seemed great and the Board of Trustees learned about it and stepped in and said ‘No, there will not be such a group on Berry’s campus,’” Bucher said. 

According to Bucher, LISTEN continued to meet during this time of non-recognition. 

“My understanding has always been that the Board of Trustees finally decided that such decision should lie in the hands of the president,” Bucher said. “However, they would not let Dr. Colley make that decision before he retired. They wanted the new president to come in.” 

President Steve Briggs approved LISTEN as an official club in 2012. Between the years of 2003 and 2012, Bucher said that the LGBTQ community had some difficult years but continued to push for recognition. 

“For me, it’s interesting, because I think now more and more, students are coming in not really aware of the history of the group and how it was a really long and hard fight to get the organization on campus, ” Bucher said. 

According to Bucher, LISTEN has significantly improved the attitude towards the LGBT community. In the Rome community, multiple impromptu pride events have occurred. Turn Your Back on Hate, a Rome organization, organized a vigil after the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016, and Bucher said she felt something different. 

“They did a vigil after the Orlando nightclub shooting downtown, and there was something about that vigil, even though it was just supposed to be a memorial candlelight thing,” Bucher said. “There was something about the energy in that vigil that to me felt like ‘there’s something going on here. There’s a little element of some desire to organize.” 

As far as resources on campus, the chaplain’s office, EMPOWER and the InterFaith Council provide support to the LGBTQ community. According to Bucher, some faculty and staff have received safe space training. 

“Twice now, the campus has brought in safe space training for faculty and staff,” Bucher said. “So, you will see faculty and staff with safe space stickers on their doors. Presumably, when a student sees that sticker, they know that if they need to talk about something, they can come in and talk to a faculty or staff member.” 

Breast Cancer Awareness 

ribbon.jpgOne of the better-known awarenesses of October is Breast Cancer Awareness. Emma Cordle, Health Center director, discussed the benefits of being aware of the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer. 

“If caught early, breast cancer is very curable,” Cordle said. 

According to Cordle, health guidelines recommend that women receive clinical breast exams beginning at the age of 25. However, Cordle recommends self-examining one’s breasts beginning now so that it becomes a part of one’s daily routine. 

“The older you get, the busier you get, and if it’s something you’ve always been in the habit of doing, you’re more likely to do it,” Cordle said. 

Breast cancer is not unique to women. Cordle said men can also get breast cancer, and being aware of any unusual symptoms in your breast area can help catch breast cancer early in both men and women. 

“If they feel a lump or something that’s abnormal there, just looking at the size and shape of your breast and if your nipples are doing anything unusual or if you have some dimpling or anything in your breast area is some of the first signs,” Cordle said. 

Self-examinations are easily practiced. According to the breast self-examination handout provided by the Health Center, they are best performed a few days after the last menstrual period. Visual checks are recommended along with a physical examination. 

A physical examination has a variety of different patterns including lines, circles and wedges. Regardless of which pattern is chosen, the entire breast area including the bra line, breastbone, collarbone and underarm should be examined. According to the handout, some women prefer to do the physical examination in the shower or bath; however, it is not required. 

Breast cancer can affect women of any age and genetics, and family history can increase the likelihood of having breast cancer. 

“I’ve seen a variety of people with breast cancer all different ages,” Cordle said. “It’s not common for someone really young to get breast cancer, but you always know of that one that’s had breast cancer at an early age.” 

“Become more aware. Guidelines are constantly changing,” Cordle said. 

Clinical breast exams are available anytime from the Health Center at no additional cost to students. A pink-out football game will occur this Saturday on Oct. 12. Also, the Health Center will be tabling near the end of October to raise awareness and educate the student body on breast cancer. 

Other Awarenesses This Month: 

There are more awarenesses than the ones mentioned above, so below are others in October. Whether silly and fun or serious, there is a wide-range of awarenesses that occur. 

▷ Blindness Awareness Month 

▷ Dental Hygiene Month 

▷ Halloween Safety Month 

▷ Domestic Violence Awareness Month 

▷ ADHD Awareness Month 

▷ National Sarcastic Awareness Month 

▷ Home Eye Safety Month 

▷ National Down Syndrome Awareness Month 

▷ National Physical Therapy Month 

▷ Raptor Month

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