This year, the Functional Immediate Response for Student Safety Team (FIRSST) will be partnering with Emily Hahn, Residence Life coordinator, to provide on-campus substance use education.
“I believe that student-led initiatives and administration-led initiatives will be most successful when we work together toward our shared goals,” said Hahn. “That is why I am thrilled for the work that FIRSST, PIN and Student Life are doing this year.”
In the past, FIRSST has not been recognized as an official on-campus club and thus had to work independently from Student Life.
FIRSST was originally formed in 2015 in response to what students felt was a lack of accessible safety tools and support provided for students by GC. Since then, the group has worked on leading alcohol and sex-positive educational workshops. One of their most prevalent projects is the Safety Shuttle, a student-led program to provide safe transportation home on weekends.
“[The Shuttle] has been and remains a student-led service with students volunteering their time and their cars to make sure people get home safe on the weekends,” said Marris Opsahl, co-leader of FIRSST alongside Jace Longenecker. “It has run every weekend this year and hopefully that will continue.”
If students feel unsafe or are unable to return home safely for any reason, the Shuttle will pick them up from locations within a 15-minute radius of campus and drive them to their home. No questions are asked and the service is entirely confidential unless there is an immediate threat of harm to students or the campus community.
The Safety Shuttle phone number is new this year: (574) 327-5467.
FIRSST aims to ensure all students, whether they choose to use substances or not, are equipped with the skills to make informed decisions both on and off campus.
Opsahl said that FIRSST “want[s] to start the conversation and we want students to have the knowledge and skills to navigate these things safely.”
“It is about respecting yourself and respecting the people you are with so that everyone stays safe,” she said.
As a result of the partnership with Student Life, FIRSST can now make workshops more accessible for a wider scope of students. This support affirms the campus-wide objective for student safety.
Even though FIRSST now has administrative support, it is a priority that the group remains led by students. This is just a way in which Goshen College is reconstructing itself to ensure safety and support to their student body.
Over the last several years, GC has also incorporated mandatory bystander training led by PIN in ICC and transfer classes. In addition to the training, Goshen College has made other changes in regards to Title IX policy and procedures.
FIRSST hopes to start having regular meetings soon, most likely on Tuesday evenings after night classes get out.
If you would like to get involved with the work FIRSST is doing, be sure to email Marris Opsahl at email@example.com with questions.