Student Life and Athletics
Sweet Briar College blurs the distinction between formal classroom learning and student life. From serving on a judiciary committee, to hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains, to having a campus job, many of the experiences students engage in outside the classroom complement their academic pursuits and broaden their understanding of the world in general. Because these experiences enhance the curriculum, they are called co-curricular experiences and grouped under the heading of Co-Curricular Life.
At Sweet Briar, curricular and co-curricular programs work together to further the educational mission of the College. Students are given opportunities to connect classroom learning with student life, as well as to contribute to a diverse campus community through participation in social, cultural, and recreational activities. Students are also encouraged to test their knowledge and skills in off-campus internships, volunteer activities, and outdoor adventure programs.
Academic life, involvement in sports and recreation, and participation in a rich variety of co-curricular opportunities are all parts of the Sweet Briar experience.
Sweet Briar College is an outstanding setting for an active lifestyle balanced with moments of quiet and contemplation. The College campus covers 3,250 acres and includes woodlands, nature sanctuaries, farmland, lakes, a mountain outing cabin, the Rogers Riding Center, recreational facilities, and trails for hikers, bicycles, and horses.
Through participation in co-curricular opportunities, students gain both self-knowledge and a greater sense of personal and social responsibility. They are challenged to assume positions of leadership in student government, peer judicial boards, clubs and organizations, and athletics. Volunteer opportunities are available to community members.
The Division of Co-Curricular Life encourages student creativity and the generation of new ideas. Staff members work closely with individual students, faculty, staff, as well as clubs, organizations, and groups to create innovative and engaging programs, including events that offer nothing more than fun and relaxation.
The Division of Co-Curricular Life consists of the following areas: Career Services, Chaplain’s office, First Year and Sophomore Student Programs, Health Center and Counseling Services, Leadership Programs, Outdoor Programs, Residence Life, and Student Involvement and Programs.
Orientation is the first step in a new student’s collegiate career. This program is designed to familiarize new students with the Sweet Briar campus. In addition, New Student Orientation is designed to help students become comfortable with one another as roommates, classmates, and members of the Sweet Briar community.
During this time, students meet with academic advisors, learn the ins and outs of campus life, how to use the computer network, how to navigate the library, and gain an understanding of the Honor Code. In one Orientation activity, Learning on the Land, students participate in a experiential education session that examines the Sweet Briar environment from different perspectives including anthropology, art, ecology, sustainability, history, horticulture and music. These sessions are created and taught by faculty, administrators and staff members with a goal of combining learning, recreation, and service. Session topics and instructors vary from year to year. This outdoor component of New Student Orientation also helps make new students aware of these natural and recreational resources.
Students also become acquainted with the many services, resources, and opportunities offered at the College.
Sweet Briar is a residential college and the student residences provide a unique opportunity for students to learn, live and grow in a dynamic and diverse community. Residential living offers students more than just a room; it is a vital component of a total educational experience. Living in a residence hall or apartment gives students the opportunity to establish meaningful relationships, to develop self discipline, and become responsible members of the community. The community includes all students, both those who live on campus and those who enroll as non-residential and Turning Point students.
The College provides housing for students in eight different facilities. In addition to single- and double-occupancy rooms, there are a number of triple and quad suites that include a common living area, as well as apartment style living.
The Office of Residence Life employs professional staff, most who live in the residence halls or on campus live-in staff members who help to create and maintain community within student residence areas. These staff members have a high degree of visibility and serve as resources for students:
- Resident Coordinators (RCs) are part-time professionals who live in the residence halls and support the work of the RA’s. They also serve on-call after hours duty, including weekends. These staff members are selected for their expertise and interest in counseling, conflict mediation and community development.
- Resident Advisors (RA’s) are the student members of the Residence Life staff who live and work with new students and serve as Orientation leaders and as community resources. They also live and work with upper class women to help educate and empower fellow students. RA’s assist the College in its overall operation of the Residence Life program and work collaboratively to provide balance, support and fun to the residential community.
The comprehensive career services program is available to all students and alumnae. It is based on the premise that career planning for women is highly individual and lifelong. The Career Services staff helps students formulate their plans for careers, future study, or both.
Permanent credential files for graduates are maintained and pertinent information is forwarded to prospective employers and graduate schools for all seniors and alumnae who register for this service. Students are encouraged to consult Career Services early and often. The formal program begins in the fall semester of a student’s first year at Sweet Briar.
A four-year plan introduces students to the concept of career services:
- First Year students engage in Self Assessment. Students can take inventory tests that provide insightful information regarding career preferences and technical strengths. They are encouraged to begin exploring career fields of interest. Through carefully planned workshops, students take the first steps toward establishing career goals and constructing effective résumés.
- Second Year students conduct Exploration. Students continue to explore career fields of interest, attend advanced workshops on such topics as developing résumés and cover letters, interviewing, and networking. Students may also participate in internship opportunities or explore career fields through work experiences.
- Third Year students focus more directly on their Experiences. Students are expected to participate in either focused career research or begin preparing for graduate school. Interviewing and job searching techniques are enhanced while students continue to work on these areas. Internship opportunities consisting of on- and off-campus employment are emphasized. Students receive assistance with graduate and professional school entrance exams, applications and interviews.
- Fourth Year students focus on Lifetime Applications of Skills and Interests. These students are assisted in the formal aspects of job searching. Information gathered over their previous three years—inventory tests, internship experiences, résumés, and other experiences—provide the documented references seniors need to prepare for job fairs and interviews. Sweet Briar participates in major job-search opportunities such as field/major specific career events, campus interviews, and the annual CHALLENGE job fair. Through mock interviews and transition to the world of work programs, Sweet Briar students are provided with many opportunities to manage the transition from college to careers.
Health and Counseling Services
Health and Counseling Services provide comprehensive primary care with an emphasis on women’s health. The staff offers general ambulatory medical care, gynecological services, and other health-related practices.
The Health Center is staffed by a nurse practitioner, RN, and a medical office manager. The center contracts with a local family-practice physician for on-site visits and consultation. A licensed mental health professional offers counseling and assistance to students with personal, family, social, or educational concerns. An additional agreement with a psychiatrist provides consultation services and care. Student leaders, known as SweetPEAs, promote wellness and healthy lifestyle choices through a range of programs.
All services are confidential. Health and Counseling Services offices are open Monday through Friday during normal college business hours. After-hours emergencies are handled by trained campus safety officers, residence hall staff, and the Amherst Rescue Squad.
The Outdoor Program
The Sweet Briar Outdoor Program (SWEBOP) provides outdoor recreational activities and adventures that foster personal growth, leadership, and environmental responsibility. SWEBOP’s popular series of outdoor programs include backpacking and hiking, rock climbing, caving, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and a variety of other activities. These adventures are available to students at all skill levels.
Students are given additional opportunities to become outdoor instructors who build group dynamics, communication and leadership skills. They are also trained in the technical aspects needed for each adventure program.
Sweet Briar student leadership programs encourage new students to become campus leaders, enable returning leaders to enhance their skills, and prepare all students for leadership positions within their areas of interest.
Leadership Certificate Program
Sweet Briar College's Leadership Certificate Program prepares women to become responsible and influential members of a global community. Through an intense and supportive educational environment, students are empowered to learn to lead with integrity, honor, and commitment. They do so by integrating the knowledge offered to them through the College's strong liberal arts curriculum, diverse experiences both on and off campus, and the development of individual and team building skills. Together, these experiences will provide them a strong foundation on which to build as they become leaders in their chosen endeavors while students at Sweet Briar as well as after graduation and throughout their lives.
The Leadership Certificate Program is a program that:
- Combines academic and experiential learning which encourages an understanding of the theory and foundations of leadership;
- Fosters personal development such as communication skills, time management, and ethical decision making;
- Provides for the acquisition of the organizational skills necessary to work well with others and to motivate groups to work toward a common goal.
The Leaders: Emerging and Achieving Program (LEAP) focuses on individual leadership development and education through interactive learning. LEAP is an integral, yet separate piece of the Sweet Briar College Leadership Certificate Program. Students can participate in LEAP without pursuing the Leadership Certificate.
The Annual Student Leadership Conference is a one-day conference planned and hosted by students in the Leadership Certificate Program, and open to all students. This event is held in the Florence Elston Inn and Conference Center on campus each spring and features a keynote speaker and a variety of professional level workshops and sessions.
Additionally, many opportunities for leadership are available in various program areas, campus leadership positions in Student Government and clubs, through Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, and through participation in both Who’s Who Among American Colleges & Universities, and the National Leadership Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa.
Whatever the interest, whatever the need, Sweet Briar staff are willing to help students become involved with a volunteer project or civic engagement opportunity. Information regarding resources is available through the Chaplain’s Office.
Student Involvement and Programs
The office of Student Involvement and Programs promotes engagement in social, cultural, academic and wellness activities which enhance the classroom experience and helps students to create rich and interesting lives on and off campus. Students are encouraged to design and produce a variety of events including social events and parties, concerts, comedy nights, game nights, poetry readings, athletic activities, and more. Funding is available to support student initiatives.
Campus Events Organization
Student events are developed and produced by the student-run Campus Events Organization (CEO) with guidance from the Director of Student Involvement and Programs. Funded by the student activity fee, CEO provides a range of programming: comedy, novelty, main stage concerts, solo performers, cultural enrichment and wellness.
CEO also supports Sweet Briar’s belief in the importance of experiential learning. Students gain training and experience in event planning and management, finances, publicity, time management, organizational behavior, and advertising. These opportunities are personally enriching and have the potential to lead to internships and career employment.
Among the advantages of a women’s college are the unlimited opportunities for students to participate and assume leadership roles in many types of organizations and activities. At Sweet Briar, students are urged to actively engage in existing co-curricular and departmental offerings. They are also encouraged to establish groups and clubs if existing offerings do not correspond to their interests. Examples of organizations initiated by students include Environmental Club, Model UN, Business Club, Christian Fellowship, Amnesty International and the Cooking Club. Campus organizations are funded through the Student Life Fund and are part of the Inter-Club Council. In addition, Student Involvement and Programs offers specialized training, resources, and professional development activities to student organizations and their advisors throughout the academic year.
Students are welcome to join the staff of the student publications. Red Clay, the College literary magazine, publishes student poetry, stories, photography, and artwork. The Sweet Briar Voice, the College newspaper, and The Briar Patch, the College yearbook, are published in the spring.
Students interested in broadcasting can take part in writing, producing, and announcing documentary or entertainment programming for the College’s student-run radio station.
The opinions expressed in any Sweet Briar College publication or other forms of media are not necessarily those of the students, faculty, staff or administration. Therefore, Sweet Briar College is not responsible for its content. Editorials represent the opinion(s) of the editor(s).
Late Night Programs
The Student Activities Representatives in the Office of Student Involvement and Programs coordinate activities on campus each Saturday night, including concerts, movies, game nights and open mic events. Many of the activities take place in the Fitness and Athletics Center (FAC).
Students in all class years participate in the governance of the College through the many offices and committee positions of the Student Government Association (SGA). The Association and its committees are largely responsible for the self-governance of the student body.
The Student Government Association is founded upon a highly developed concept of honor which applies to all phases of academic and social life. It is based on the fundamental belief that community harmony is best achieved when it has as its basis honor and mutual trust and respect. Each entering student becomes a full member of the Student Government Association upon taking the Honor Pledge, which in essence states that Sweet Briar women do not lie, cheat, steal, or violate the rights of others.
Sweet Briar has a part-time chaplain who serves to support the spiritual lives of students. The Chaplain’s Office sponsors weekly opportunities for worship, study, volunteer service and ethical reflection. Because we live in an increasingly diverse world, the College Chaplain works intentionally to develop programs that speak to the needs of students from all faith backgrounds.
On campus, students may take part in Sunday night worship services in the Chapel, Roman Catholic campus ministries, Bible studies, support groups, lectures, and special Friday Night Torah Study and Shabbat Observance events related to religion and spirituality. Students have many opportunities for leadership in campus ministry by serving as a Sweet Spirit or becoming involved with Habitat for Humanity or other service opportunities. A student-led chapter of Campus Christian Fellowship meets weekly for worship and fellowship. The Chaplain is available to students for confidential pastoral counseling.
In addition to on-campus spiritual opportunities, the Chaplain’s Office serves as a liaison to many area churches, synagogues, and mosques which welcome Sweet Briar students. The Chaplain’s Office also assists students interested in taking part in mission trips throughout the United States or to international venues during holiday, spring, and summer breaks.
At Sweet Briar, athletics and physical education are an important part of the education of the total student. Department faculty and staff are committed to enhancing the physical, mental and emotional well-being of all students as an integral part of their educational experience. The Instructional Program offers a wide range of activities allowing each student to develop skills and knowledge that will contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
The Intercollegiate Athletics Program provides opportunities for competitive excellence for students with advanced skills. Through high quality coaching, facilities and funding, student-athletes are afforded the opportunity to succeed both as individuals and as team members. Sweet Briar College is a member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and NCAA Division III, sponsoring six varsity sports for women in field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming and tennis.
Sweet Briar’s 3,250-acre campus provides a superb natural setting for jogging, hiking, biking, tennis, soccer, swimming, and many other sports and outdoor activities. The new expanded Fitness and Athletics Center facilities include basketball, tennis, badminton, racquetball, squash, and volleyball courts, weight-training equipment, a cardio-fitness center, fencing and aerobics room, elevated track, and a 25-meter pool. Located on campus are fields for hockey, lacrosse, softball, and soccer, as well as 14 tennis courts. The fencing club team plays a club schedule against a variety of colleges. Recreational, fitness and student club opportunities include basketball, volleyball, cross-country running, tennis, touch football, soccer, spinning, aerobics, and other sports.
From informative, entertaining talks by leading authors and scholars to dynamic dance concerts and cutting-edge art exhibitions, Sweet Briar’s events schedule reflects the rich diversity and tastes of the College and its surrounding community.
Distinguished speakers and professional companies visit our theater and lecture halls each year. Recent presenters include environmental journalist Michael Pollan, environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., filmmaker John Waters, authors Zakes Mda and Manil Suri, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and naturalist Edward O. Wilson, and performing artists Bread and Puppet Theater, the Ying Quartet, and the American Shakespeare Center on Tour.
Plays, lunchtime music concerts, sporting events, art exhibits, film festivals, museum activities and more await. Visit our Web site for a list of current events.