Hotline designed by student offers support and answers questions

by Jennifer Schneider

For years, students with questions on topics ranging from peanut butter to the Peace Corps needed only to wander as far as Nicholson Hall to find the answer.
There, members of the Minnesota Women’s Center were happy to provide students answers to everyday questions about the University and life in general.
But students walking through Nicholson Hall this fall hoping to learn where they can find a smoke-free dance club or a career counselor were pointed toward the Women’s Center’s new location in Klaeber Court, on the corner of 16th Avenue and Fourth Street S.E.
When the organization moved to its new home in March, student staff member Emily Nelson wondered where all those curious students would go with their questions.
She then developed ORACLES (Offering Referrals Answers Commitment Listening Encouragement and Support), an information and referral hotline designed to help students use the vast pool of resources available to them.
“The campus is so big that it’s hard because there’s not one place to find all the information,” Nelson said. “There was a need for one place on campus to connect all these resources together.”
Both male and female students can call or e-mail ORACLES with questions on any topic, and a representative will provide them with the answers or tell them where to go for further information. The program is staffed entirely by University students trained to use a variety of resources.
“Our goal is to help students help themselves,” Nelson said. “We tell them where we got the information so they can be empowered to find their own answers in the future.”
According to the group’s Web site, the Women’s Center supports the mission of improving the campus climate for women students. Established in 1960, the center seeks to enhance learning environments for women by offering educational programs and improving campus awareness.
ORACLES receives 20 to 40 calls from as far away as North Carolina and as close to home as the organization’s Klaeber Court headquarters.
Students wishing to use the hotline can call ORACLES at (612) 626-8248 or e-mail them at [email protected]