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November 2013

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Writing on the bathroom stalls

By Molly Rossberg

Potty MouthIf you've ever looked around a bathroom stall at JMU, chances are you've seen the latest issue of Potty Mouth hanging on the door. The publication features short blurbs that are centered around seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, social, spiritual, physical, occupational, environmental, and intellectual.

Lesley Eicher, a health educator with the University Health Center's Student Wellness and Outreach and the advisor for Potty Mouth, says that Potty Mouth has been around since 2002 when Jen Potson, a College Student and Personnel Administration student, developed it. Since then, it has enjoyed continued success.

"Potty Mouth is wildly popular, posted in bathroom stalls all over campus. It reaches the entire student body, as well as faculty, staff, and visitors," Eicher said.

Its goal is to reach students and address a variety of issues they might be facing. For instance, the most forthcoming issue of Potty Mouth debunks certain myths that are common on college campuses, like drinking coffee will help you sober up (it won't), or that the information you post on social media is private (it's not).

Potty Mouth has developed into a two-credit, semester long course made up of eight to 10 students and a graduate assistant who is responsible for teaching the class. New students are selected to work on the publication each semester. Kathie Hagy, the graduate assistant who teaches the class, says that it has been a fruitful experience for both her and her students.

"My students are creative and enthusiastic, and I've really enjoyed working with them and learning from them this semester," Hagy said.

The class attracts students from different majors with a variety of interests. Junior media arts and design major Olivia Lynch and sophomore health sciences major Lindsay Rossum are both currently enrolled in the Potty Mouth class. Lynch was looking for more outlets to refine her writing skills.

"I loved reading the publication...and became very interested in health topics after taking GKIN 101. As a SMAD major, I knew I needed some hands-on writing experience so I felt that Potty Mouth was perfect for me," Lynch said.

Rossum is, "...extremely passionate about advocating a healthy lifestyle and writing. I knew [Potty Mouth] would be such a great opportunity to combine those things and gain life experience," she said when asked about why she wanted to take the class.

Lynch and Rossum attribute the positive atmosphere of the class to Potty Mouth's continued success. Both of them describe the small class as a "collaborative" and realize the benefits of getting to know their classmates so well.

"[Getting to know each other] has allowed us to focus on editing and brainstorming. I've learned so much from the insight they all bring [to the class]," said Lynch.

When asked about her future career goals, Rossum is sure that being a part of the Potty Mouth staff has helped her along the path to becoming a health educator.

"I've always had a passion for health education, but Potty Mouth has only enhanced my decision to pursue that in the future. I've found my niche," said Rossum.

Catch up on previous issues, apply to join next semester's staff, and follow Potty Mouth on Twitter from jmu.edu/healthcenter.








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