In the current political and social climate in the U.S., there are many serious issues that people feel uneasy talking about. However, avoiding these topics can lead to harmful situations. With this in mind, Revive, a student organization at Grand Valley State University, hopes to create a safe environment for students to discuss uncomfortable situations and overcome personal battles.
Revive is an organization exclusive to GVSU. It was officially founded in the fall semester of 2016 by LaShawntelle Carson-Pops, a GVSU student who felt called to help others going through similar situations to her own.
“A lot of the topics Revive discusses I’ve personally experienced,” Carson-Pops said. “I never spoke about them, so I ended up in unhealthy situations. At the moment when I tried to commit suicide, God spoke to me and told me my purpose. That purpose was to educate community members about the different experiences I went through by making them more general because a lot of people experience these things.”
The organization’s purpose is to educate, advocate for and support GVSU students through open discussions about taboo topics. Revive brings to light issues such as suicide, sexual assault, domestic violence, mental illness, immigration and more.
“Sometimes we can keep these issues bottled up for so long that they begin to interfere with our daily lives,” said Paulasia Sims, president of Revive. “Talking about these things makes people more aware of them and of how they can go about getting help.”
In order to share such knowledge, Revive hosts a number of general meetings and public events on campus. Although these discussions feature heavy topics, the atmosphere is positive, lively and empowering. All of the gatherings usually include icebreakers, presentations, activities, training and personal sharing.
The overall goal is for people to learn about taboo problems in society so they can help themselves and others. Because of this, meetings and events focus on talking about serious topics in a safe, judgement-free zone. The conversations are often peer-centered and allow for GVSU students to share their thoughts and feelings without conflict.
“We have a lot of students here who are very open and okay with being themselves,” Sims said. “When people are comfortable sharing their stories and comfortable being around everyone else, it warms my heart and makes me happy.”
In addition, Revive officials regularly invite professionals to speak during lectures or panels since these presenters would be more educated on the addressed topics.
Revive is partnered with the Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity, the University Counseling Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. However, the organization also works with other student and community organizations.
“We’re really big on collaboration. That is one of our core values,” Carson-Pops said. “We think trying to make a change in numbers has more of an impact.”
Since the organization values unity, it is open to everyone. There are no requirements to join, so all interested students can get involved as much as they want by attending Revive meetings, information sessions, events and community service opportunities.
While Revive is a smaller organization, Sims hopes it will continue to grow and spread awareness about uncomfortable, unmentioned topics. Moving forward, Carson-Pops is considering expanding Revive to other institutions.
To learn more, visit Revive’s OrgSync page at https://orgsync.com/147794/chapter, or visit Revive’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/REV231/.