The Better Together campaign was created by the Wellness Advisory Board (WAB) in 2016 to emphasize the importance of students connecting with one another to strengthen their emotional well-being. Data from UChicago's 2014 Healthy Minds Study showed that more than half of both College and graduate students felt lonely. Much of this was attributed to students not developing lasting connections with their peers.
In 2019, UChicago Student Wellness implemented Phase II of Better Together. During this phase of the campaign, a small student group of Graduate and Professional students come together once a week for four weeks for dinner, thoughtful discussion, and creative ways to get to know their peers.
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What students are saying:
- "I signed up for Better Together because I was interested in meeting graduate students from across the university, and it quickly became something I looked forward to every week...The sessions were fun, engaging, and provided space for the kind of self- and communal reflection I love. I met some really kind and interesting people, gained some great resources, and laughed a lot. Highly recommended!" Better Together Participant, Spring 2019
- "The sessions are really inclusive for people who take longer to feel comfortable around others. By the end of the sessions, I think we’d all opened up a lot, and the space felt incredibly supportive." Better Together Participant, Spring 2019
- "Building new friendships isn't a fast process. But BT provides an opportunity to start that process... And now I feel like if I need support, or just someone to go on a walk with, I can reach out to my BT group and pretty instantly get connected." Better Together Participant, Spring 2019
- "I believe this type of program is really critical for supporting graduate students holistically, and recognizing that under the best circumstances, when students have the support of their community, and are recognized for their worth as human beings, they can do their best work." Better Together Participant, Spring 2019
- "While we often arrived from different corners of campus after exhausting, stressful days, the dinners in the 'WellNest" were always inclusive and revitalizing. We shared the challenges of pursuing graduate study at the University of Chicago, yet we never focused on individual gripes, instead spontaneously sharing tips and sincerely encouraging one another." Better Together Participant, Spring 2019
- "I loved the chance to meet graduate students from other programs and different years, which gave me the opportunity to meet people I would never have run into otherwise and also to hear new perspectives on the topics we discussed... I really appreciated the safe and supportive environment, where we lifted each other up and brought in a much needed dose of positivity each week." Better Together Participant, Spring 2019
- "I am grateful that Better Together provided a unique opportunity where I could genuinely get to know others. I feel more integrated to the UChicago community as a result. Better Together Participant, Spring 2019
The goals of Phase II of Better Together are to:
- Increase feelings of belonging to a group
- Improve connections among participants
- Decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation among participants
The goals of Phase I of the Better Together campaign were to:
- Emphasize the importance of developing social connections
- Increase students' motivation to become more connected with others
- Decrease feelings of loneliness among UChicago students
Phase I of this campaign encouraged students to change their attitudes around the importance of connecting with others by:
- Providing suggestions for how to connect with one another
- Highlighting research showing the benefits of social connectedness
- Linking students to events, programs, and services on campus that encourage connecting with others