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Cougar Health Services Educational Info

Understanding gender-based violence

Group of students hugging

It’s important to talk about violence because it can happen to anyone. Violence impacts students of all sexes, races and ethnicities. Victims and perpetrators can be people of any gender. And violence can happen in same-sex or opposite-sex relationships.

Gender-based violence includes intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual assault. Sometimes these types of violence are hard to spot. Understanding them can help us identify violence and respond. By learning more about violence, we can all help create a safer campus community and ensure every student has a healthy and safe experience at WSU.

Intimate partner violence is when someone uses power to gain or maintain control over another person. Intimate partner violence can take on many names – dating violence, domestic violence and partner violence – but it’s all the same thing: a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship. Many people initially think of physical abuse. But intimate partner violence can include emotional, psychological, sexual or financial abuse.

Someone who is trying to gain or maintain power and control over their partner might minimize the abuse and that person’s response to it. They might say things like “you’re being too sensitive,” or “it’s not that big of a deal.” In 2015, 7.7 percent of Cougs said they were in an emotionally abusive intimate relationship in the past year (ACHA-NCHA, 2015). Some examples of intimate partner violence include:

  • Threats or intimidation
  • Possessiveness
  • Harassment
  • Humiliation
  • Limiting independence
  • Isolation

Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment or any other course of conduct that causes a reasonable person to feel afraid. People are most likely to be stalked by someone they know, such as a friend, current or former partner, acquaintance, or someone they met online. 3.9 percent of Cougs reported being stalked in the past year (ACHA-NCHA, 2015). Some examples of stalking include:

  • Repeated/unwanted emails, texts, phone calls, DMs
  • Showing up where someone is because they know that person’s schedule
  • Monitoring emails, texts, phone calls, social media accounts
  • Sending unwanted gifts to someone
  • Contacting or posting about someone on social media
  • Using friends and/or family to get information about someone

Sexual assault is any sexual activity lacking consent. 9 percent of Cougs reported being touched sexually without their consent in the past year (ACHA-NCHA, 2015). Sexual assault includes a wide range of behaviors such as:

  • Any non-consensual physical contact
  • Sharing nude photos
  • Filming someone
  • Groping, touching
  • Making sexual comments (incl. catcalling, sexting, comments on social media)
  • Attempted or completed rape

As Cougs, we play an active role in helping reduce violence on our campus. And we want to support our friends when they reach out to us for help.

If you or someone you know has experienced gender-based violence, there are a number of confidential and non-confidential resources on campus and in the community that can help. The Office for Equal Opportunity can help with implementing personal safety measures and/or making a report.

WSU doesn’t tolerate any forms of violence. If you experience any of these forms of violence, know that it’s not your fault, and we’re here to help.

WSU’s ACHA-NCHA statistics are comparable to universities nationwide. If you want more information on statistics pertaining to gender-based violence, ACHA has a position statement which includes nationwide figures.

Do you want more information on how to make our campus safer? Sign up to receive the latest news and updates on how we can end violence in our community.

Parents: Talk to your student about relationships

Dad and son talking

We strive to educate our students about violence prevention, but this is something we cannot do alone. We need parents, caregivers and mentors to join conversations about violence prevention and healthy relationships. We need your help.   

You may be surprised to learn that teens rely on parents, rather than friends, for guidance about these issues. We encourage you to have open conversations with your student—regardless of their gender—about dating, sexual relationships, healthy boundaries and consent. The key is to let your Coug know they can always come to you if they have questions or need support.

If you’ve already had conversations about healthy relationships with your student, we encourage you to continue.  For many, having these conversations isn’t easy and we recognize that.  It can be difficult and sometimes awkward to talk with your student about violence prevention and relationships.  But we promise it’s absolutely worth it.

To get the conversation started, keep it simple:

  • Look for opportunities to weave topics of sex, gender, dating and communication into everyday conversations. You could talk about a TV show, news story or blog post that relates to these topics, and ask your student what they think about it.
  • Talk about consent, and the university’s definition of consent in sexual interactions.
  • Reinforce that Cougs take action when they see someone in a risky situation or someone who needs help.
  • Talk about values your family shares, and what these look like in dating and sexual relationships.
  • Review WSU’s policy prohibiting discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.
  • Ask about the Safety on Campus workshop your student attended during Alive!
  • Talk about boundaries, and let your student know that no one has the right to push them further than they want.

Even though your student is now an adult and has moved away to college, you still play a vital role in influencing them to make healthy decisions throughout life.

By educating yourself about this important issue, you will be better prepared should your student ever come to you asking questions about how to handle a particular situation.  Visit oeo.wsu.edu to learn more about the university’s process for handling instances of gender-based violence.

Get relief for itchy eyes

Students standing outside

Dry, itchy eyes bothering you this summer? You’re not the only one! About 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children in the United States have seasonal allergies. In addition to symptoms of sneezing, congestion and a runny nose, many allergy sufferers also experience swollen eyelids and itchy, watery, red eyes.

If you have these symptoms, here are a few tips on how to get relief for your eyes:

  • Splash your eyes with icy cold water for about 5 minutes when you first get up in the morning. This helps wash away allergens and reduce puffiness and itching.
  • Try to avoid touching your eyes! Rubbing your eyes can intensify feelings of itchiness.
  • Limit your exposure to common allergens. Keep your windows closed during high pollen periods, and use air conditioning in your home and car.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after petting animals. Pet dander is one of the most common triggers for eye allergies.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to help stop pollen from getting in your eyes.

There are many over-the-counter remedies available to help relieve red, itchy, watery eyes. Decongestants are eye drops that reduce redness from eye allergies by narrowing the blood vessels in the eye. Using these for too long can actually increase swelling and redness, so don’t use them for more than 2-3 days a time. Oral antihistamines are another option that can be mildly effective in relieving itching, but they can also cause dry eyes and may worsen eye allergy symptoms.

One of the best remedies to try is artificial tears. Artificial tears will temporarily wash allergens from the eye and help reduce that dry, irritated feeling. You can use these drops as often as needed for relief. Storing them in the refrigerator to keep them cool can be even more soothing.

Make sure to choose preservative-free artificial tears to avoid irritating your eyes further. A good brand to try is Alaway by Bausch & Lomb. These can be found at many pharmacies, and we also carry them in our vision clinic. Come visit us in the Washington building to pick some up!

6 tips for eating healthy on a budget

Person holding fruit

When you’re looking for food that’s cheap, fast and convenient, it can be tempting to make unhealthy choices. If you’ve ever made an effort to eat healthy while on a budget, you’ve probably felt caught in a decision between cost-effective and healthy choices.

We’ve got good news, though: it really is possible to do both! Here are six quick tips to help:

  1. Plan and make a list. Try planning at least three meals for the week and make a list of the specific ingredients you need before you hit the grocery store. Having a plan and a shopping list will help you stick to buying only what you need.
  2. Freeze leftovers. Your healthy meals will stay fresh longer in the freezer than the refrigerator, and takeout won’t be as tempting if you have healthy leftovers on hand.
  3. Check out frozen foods. Frozen fruits and veggies are often just as nutritious as fresh produce, and are also significantly cheaper.
  4. Buy generic or store brands. Generic brands typically have the exact same ingredients and are significantly cheaper than name brands.
  5. Get the most nutritious foods for your money. Some foods rich in nutrients but low in price include: peanut butter, whole wheat bread, tuna, beans, milk, yogurt, eggs, low-sugar spaghetti sauce, pasta, seasonal fruits and vegetables.
  6. Set yourself up for success. No matter how strong your willpower, keeping cookies and soda in the house makes it easy to slip up. Choosing not to buy unhealthy food in the first place will help you avoid empty calories and save money.

You can find more information about building a healthy diet from Health.gov or by signing up for a Health & Wellness Services workshop on CougSync. If you’re eating on campus, don’t forget to check out the nutrition info provided by Dining Services.

Fitting fitness into your schedule

Woman stretching

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to commit to working out? Quick fixes that promise overnight weight loss are tempting, but can be difficult to maintain over the long term. So how can you start a new fitness habit that sticks? Here are some very simple ways to start squeezing fitness into your schedule.

Play. That’s right, it’s time to play and have fun! Getting active by doing something you enjoy will help you to stay motivated towards your fitness goals. There are so many ways to be active at WSU!

University Recreation offers a wide range of fitness classes, including everything from martial arts to merengue and CrossFit to yoga. Intramural sports are a great way to socialize and be active at the same time. Want to hike or climb? Check out some of the planned trips the Outdoor Recreation offers.

Fitness on the fly. Not sure you have time to commit to a regular fitness class or sport? That’s okay! Finding little opportunities to exercise throughout your day can add up fast. If you take three 10-minute breaks for exercise throughout the day, you’ll reach the 30 minutes of physical activity that many health experts recommend without a huge time commitment.

Consider squeezing in a few jumping jacks, pushups, squats, lunges, tricep dips or whatever else you feel inspired to do as a break from studying or watching TV. Or try walking to and from classes, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or getting your heart rate up with some energetic housework.

Know yourself.  Are you are morning person, or an evening person? Do you prefer going to the gym or exercising at home? In order to find a fitness routine that is sustainable for you, you’ll need to know your habits and preferences.

If you hate running, it’ll be tougher to motivate yourself for a daily jog than for other fitness activities. If you’re a night owl, exercising at 6 a.m. might just not be for you. Set yourself up for success with a routine and activity that fit your personal preferences.

Looking for more tips and tricks on fitness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle? Follow Coug Health on Facebook or check out our current calendar of workshops at CougSync!

Wear sunglasses for healthier eyes

Student wearing sunglasses

Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but did you know they’re also critical for keeping your eyes healthy? Sunglasses protect your eyes from a wide variety of diseases and health complications, including:

  • Migraines and headaches. Bright sunlight can trigger migraines and bad headaches. Wearing sunglasses can reduce the frequency and intensity of these headaches.
  • Scratches. Getting dust or sand in your eyes isn’t just painful, it can also be dangerous. Sand and other particles can scratch your eye and cause permanent damage.
  • Snow blindness. Sunglasses aren’t just for summer! Snow reflects 80 percent of UV rays from the sun and can cause a condition called snow blindness, where glare from the sun actually burns your cornea.
  • Cataracts and glaucoma. Exposing your eyes to the sun’s ultraviolet rays for many hours at a time or over the course of many years can cause these serious eye conditions or worsen their symptoms. Cataracts (cloudy areas on the normally clear lens of your eye) and glaucoma (a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve) are both leading causes of blindness.
  • Surfer’s eye. You don’t have to be a surfer to get this! Also known as pterygium, surfer’s eye is a growth on the eyeball itself. It’s usually not serious, but can be painful and annoying. The most common treatments are eye drops, steroids and sometimes surgery. But the best treatment is prevention by wearing good quality sunglasses that wrap around and have 100 percent UV protection!
  • Skin cancer. Nearly 10 percent of skin cancers are found near the eyes. You can protect the delicate, light-sensitive skin around your eyes by wearing sunglasses.

So what kind of sunglasses do you need to give your eyes maximum protection? Polarized lenses are one of your best options. While all sunglasses reduce the intensity of sunlight, polarized lenses go the extra mile to block harmful glare from reflected light. Wearing polarized lenses is a must if you’re doing outdoor activities involving snow or water.

With so many lens and frame options available, everyone should be able to find their perfect pair of sunglasses. Our vision clinic can help you find sunglasses that fit your needs and style, and keep your eyes healthy and protected!

You can take advantage of our May special on sunglasses by giving us a call at 509-335-0360 or visiting our location in the Washington building.

Need help quitting tobacco?

students discuss quitting tobacco

If you’re thinking about quitting tobacco, now’s a great time to start! Starting this fall, WSU Pullman will become a tobacco-free campus.

Quitting is tough! But know that you are not alone. Health & Wellness Services has a variety of free resources to help WSU students nix nicotine. We can help you explore your options for quitting, improve your motivation and learn new ways to manage stress and cravings.

Nicotine replacements (gum, patches, or lozenges) are also available at no charge to students who participate in ongoing tobacco cessation counseling. If you’d like to find out how we can help you quit, call 509-335-3575.

In the meantime, here are five quick tips to help you get started:

  1. Know why you want to quit. Make sure your motivation is strong enough to outweigh the urge to light up.
  2. Set a quit date. Choosing a specific quit date can help you get serious about your plan to stop using tobacco. Try to find a day when you won’t be too busy or stressed.
  3. Celebrate the small milestones. On top of the health benefits, quitting tobacco can save a lot of money. Reward your achievements and spend the cash you’ve saved on something you enjoy.
  4. Don’t do it alone. Tell the people in your life that you’re planning to quit, join a support group, talk to a counselor, or download an app to receive reminders and support. Counseling and nicotine replacements can significantly improve your chance of success and help ease the symptoms of withdrawal.
  5. Take care of yourself. Caring for your body and mind can help alleviate the stress of quitting tobacco. Exercise will improve your mood and energy. Strive for 7-8 hours of sleep every night, eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water.
  6. Try and try again. Most people try to quit smoking an average of 8 times before they succeed. Don’t give up! Each time you attempt to quit, you can learn something new about what does and doesn’t work for you, and what you need for success in the future.

Want more? Check out smokefree.gov and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.