Middle Earth, the oldest student-run hotline in the country, was recently presented with a joint Senate and Assembly resolution in honor of its 25th anniversary. The resolution, sponsored jointly by state Senator Michael Hoblock Jr. of Albany County and Assemblymen Ronald Canestrari of Troy and John McEneny of Albany, was presented by Assemblyman Paul Tonko of Amsterdam on September 6.
But even as the Middle Earth staff looks back over its first-quarter-century, the peer assistance program is already moving ahead with new projects.
Five students who work as Middle Earth counselors are putting the finishing touches on an informational booklet for University students who are reluctant even to use a hotline. Called Talk to ME: Questions and Answers about Surviving in College, the publication discusses such topics as how to cope with depression, relationship anxieties and sexual orientation. It also tells students where to go for help. The booklet will soon be distributed around campus and on the World Wide Web. It was written by Mary Ellen Rougas, a graduate student in school psychology, and undergraduates Carey Zerling, Middle Earth president; Rachel Handler, Middle Earth vice president; Tim Pointon and Derek Dayton. .
"They were concerned about reaching students who were having trouble coping with various problems, but didn't want to call a hotline," explained Dolores Cimini, director of Middle Earth and coordinator for alcohol and drug abuse prevention at the University Counseling Center.
Another goal for 1995-96, said Cimini, is to create a joint University Counseling Center and Middle Earth Homepage which will be found on the University's Homepage. The Middle Earth Homepage will provide World Wide Web access to information and materials about the Counseling Center and Middle Earth.
Cimini said students contributed 21,992 hours of hotline and outreach education services to the campus community in 1994-95.
Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Jim Doellefeld said that Middle Earth has remained successful over the years because it has responded to the changing campus issues confronting students.
"Middle Earth was founded as Crisis 5300 25 years ago to deal with students challenged by the drug culture. The world has changed dramatically since then. Crisis 5300 has changed its name to Middle Earth, and it now focuses its energies on prevention and education" in such areas as sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, Doellefeld said.
"With its many dedicated volunteers under the leadership of Dolores Cimini, Albany is very fortunate to have on campus this group of students helping students," he said.
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