The UTM Women’s Center is giving the student population new means to have their voices heard and their concerns addressed—the Anonymous Question Box.
Concerns about anonymity and stigmatization associated with tapping certain resources on campus has long been an unfortunate deterrent to students who need and want to take advantage of these resources. The Anonymous Question Box is an answer to those concerns.
UTM Women’s Center volunteer coordinator Gyanika Narayanaswamy explained the idea behind the Box. “The Anonymous Question Box will be a digital tool. The main idea is to allow online access to campus resources. This will give students a greater breadth for expression without the worries of stigma or pressure.”
How will students gain access to this new resource? They’ll do so through a familiar method: though the Blackboard Academic Suite (Portal).
According to Narayanaswamy, the feature is already set up on Portal and is currently going through the perfecting stages. When students have a question, they will simply log onto Portal, open the Anonymous Question Box module and post the question under the relevant theme topic.
Presently, the themes include mental, physical, sexual and social health and wellbeing. Depending on the question and the theme, the most relevant health professional available will post a response at the end of a designated period. All answers will be publicly accessible but the original asker remains anonymous.
The obvious drawback to this is that not all questions can be answered appropriately through this method. If you have a pressing question, your best bet is to still brave the unmasking act of walking into the relevant office or making a phone call. To this, Narayanaswamy said, “If we have a high demand, the rate of answer posting could change depending on the inflow of questions and the availability of the health staff. But that won’t be until we get a feel for what kind of demand there is for this feature.”
This venture has gained support from Out@UTM, the Health and Counseling Center, UTMSU and the Sexual Education Center. This means that not only women and gender issues will be addressed, but almost any question students can formulate can be answered through this feature. And they have free reign to formulate questions and remain judgment-free and completely anonymously.
Watch Portal for these upcoming changes.