The Daily Gamecock

Groups stroll to redefine 'stigma'

Stroll Out Stigma wrapped up Carolina Beautiful week Friday night, when students came to watch groups stroll and learn about eating disorders, mental illness, sexual assault and more.

The goal of the Stroll Out Stigma competition was to raise awareness about the ways that a variety of stigmas can impact our well-being and to encourage people to be respectful, kind, helpful and accepting.

“It exceeded our expectations,” said Danielle Koonce, sexual health program coordinator for Campus Wellness. “Obviously this week is about body image and eating disorders, but we wanted to tie in all of the areas of Student Health Services, because we have such great people that do such great work and help students in so many ways.”

Throughout the night, the word “stigma” was redefined. “S” stood for “Seek out resources.” Campus Wellness’ goal was for students to be aware of on-campus resources such as counseling services and the Student Health Center.

“I think on a college campus especially, people might have an idea of what it means to have a mental illness or what it means to have an eating disorder, and we are just trying to open up the conversation so people can talk about it,” Koonce said. “If we have silence and if we are not talking about it, there can be a lot of harm done.”

The letter “T” stood for “Think outside the box,” and “I” stood for “Inform yourself about issues.” “G” told students to “Get involved,” “M” asked them to “Model respect” and “A” stood for “Advocate for the silent.”

The first group to perform was Alpha Phi Omega, the coed service fraternity, followed by Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

After the groups performed, they came together and performed one last number.

The winners were chosen by the audience texting in votes, with Phi Mu Alpha taking home the top prize.

“Our purpose here was to show that dancing is a way to not only make yourself feel better about your body but defy all of those stigmas associated,” Changing Carolina President Margaret Kramer said.