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Interpersonal Relationships

The development and maintenance of healthy interpersonal relationships should be an integral part of every NYU student’s experience. Whether building relationships with professors, friends, co-workers, romantic partners, roommates, or nurturing existing relationships at home, NYU students find themselves involved with other people in every facet of their lives. Positive, functional interpersonal relationships have been shown to enhance students’ academic motivation, engagement, and achievement.NYU plays a fundamental role in helping students hone their interpersonal communication and interaction skills in order to set the standard for happy, healthy relationships in their future.


Key Facts

  • Nearly one-third of NYU students experienced difficulties with relationships, family problems, and/or problems with intimate relationships.2
  • Interpersonal relationships have a direct influence on a student’s academic performance.1 Relationship problems account for poorer academic performance in 11% of NYU students.2
  • There is a significant and positive association between relationship quality and adjustment among first-year college students who are in their emerging adulthood years.3
  • Higher levels of social and communication skills among students are positively associated with self-esteem and satisfaction with college, and negatively associated with loneliness.4
  • Negative social interactions are found to be significantly associated with symptoms of adverse physical health.5
  • Fewer and lower-quality social ties have been associated with impaired immune function.6
  • Family cohesion, or a sense of emotional connection with family members, may directly cultivate qualities of trust, initiative, effectiveness, competence, and fidelity among college students.7
  • Students’ academic and personal adjustment to college may be negatively impacted if they experience excessive guilt, resentment, and anger in their relationships with their parents.8
  • 92% of college-aged young adults reported being the victim of online aggression (such as threats, insults, or humiliation) within the past year.9

Suggestions for Administrators & Staff

This page is intended to be a resource containing suggestions for what you can do to help NYU students build and maintain healthy interpersonal relationships.

Implement programming within your department that encourages students coming in and out of the office to interact. A college environment has the power to impact the values of its students, however subtly, through “its effect on the nature and content of student interaction with faculty and peers”.21 Additionally, opportunities offered by staff and faculty for peer interaction and friendship building are critical to easing students’ processes of adapting to the university setting.21

Example:

Media in the Morning: The  Media, Culture, and Communication academic advisors host “Media in the Morning” every Wednesday so that students coming in and out of the MCC offices can stop, grab a bagel, and interact with peers that they otherwise would not have the chance to meet.

Participate in ACT institute. In making diversity a priority at NYU, the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs presents interactive training sessions, thought-provoking presentations, and innovative educational activities that enhance and encourage a deeper understanding of the multicultural nature of our campus community. Through diversity education, this program seeks to develop and create a sensitive, safe, respectful, and inclusive campus environment. The Administrators Cultural Training Institute (ACT-I) is a professional development opportunity for administrators and graduate students interested in issues of equity and education. Sign up online for a session.

Become an LGBTQ Ally. Creating a university environment that is sensitive, safe, respectful and inclusive supports and encourages positive interpersonal interactions. Sign up for Safe Zoning training.

Be a mentor. Your role as a mentor or advisor can contribute to a student’s sense of belonging in the university community, which can positively impact his or her ability to cope effectively with stress and also serve as a model of a healthy, professional relationship. The Wasserman Center for Career Development has implemented an extensive mentor network for students and staff.

Provide opportunities for positive social engagement, support, and formation of friendships. Students who are strongly socially connected are more likely to remain in school and report satisfaction with their university.22 These strong social ties improve health outcomes among those with serious health problems and also have a preventive effect for healthy people.23

•  Encourage students to announce extracurricular events and ask for support in their outside endeavors.

o Allow five minutes at the end of each student group meeting or event to announce upcoming social programs. Visit LiveWellNYU, the NYU SWOS listserv or one of NYU’s 400 clubs and organizations to learn about current programming.

o Provide a bulletin board, drop-box by your office or desk, or access to your department’s social media channels for students to publicize their social events.

o Invite students to participate in seminars, events, lectures, or other activities that coincide with their course curriculum or your specific department. For upcoming seminars and events, visit the NYU Events Calendar, Wasserman Center for Career Development for NYU Programs, or NY Daily News for events around the city.

o Sponsor group volunteer opportunities. Student participation in extracurricular activities promotes a "sense of belonging" and feelings of community. Sign up online or visit the NYU Center for Student Activities, Leadership and Service on the 7th floor of the Kimmel Center for University Life to find out more information on getting involved in long-term service projects as well as one-day projects.

o Use existing social media platforms to strengthen social connections. There is a multitude of ways and preferences by which students communicate and form social connections – some students prefer to speak up in a meeting or activity, while others might be more comfortable with online written exchanges. Social media can provide an opportunity for students to participate in dialogue that expands beyond an activity, event or program. Should your program or activity recommend or require the use of social media, remind students about cyberbullying, online stalking, and how to stay safe online.Address inappropriate content, and if necessary, report any threatening behavior to the Office of Community Standards and Compliance, Public Safety, or the Wellness Exchange.

Host programs or provide resources that empower students to resolve conflicts or exit unhealthy relationships. Although conflict is inevitable, providing students with comprehensive resources to address disputes and other relationship problems can positively influence their ability to communicate and to deal with conflict effectively.24 Students who are prepared “to prevent, manage, or resolve interpersonal conflicts without harming themselves or others”25 will be able to successfully navigate the entire spectrum of interpersonal relationships.

• Request a program from the Health Promotion Office. The Health Promotion Office sponsors educational opportunities, through workshops and tablings, for students facilitated by student leaders on the full range of topics addressed by the Health Promotion Office, including interpersonal relationship issues. Visit the NYU Student Health Center's Health Promotion Office programs page for more information.

• Provide a physical space with resources for students to access when they are experiencing conflict or relationship problems.

Example:

The LGBTQ Student Center hosts “Breathing Room”, a weekly discussion group for students who are queer or questioning to get together and discuss issues they are facing with their identities or just life in general.

Responding to a student in need

Encourage students who have disclosed having relationship problems to access Counseling and Wellness Services at the Student Health Center. Nearly one-third of NYU students experienced difficulties with relationships, family problems and/or problems with intimate relationships so severe to have adversely affected their academic performance.26 Refer students to the Wellness Exchange website or suggest students call 212-443-9999.

Be alert to signs of personal or psychological difficulties. If you notice any of the following signs, you can ask to meet privately with the student:

o Mood:  extreme sadness, anger or anxiety, or mood swings           

o Performance:  concentration difficulties, deteriorating performance, unexplained         absences or lateness

o Social behavior: extreme withdrawal, dependency, irritability, hostility

o Speech or writingsstudent alludes to problems, feeling worthless, excessive            guilt, thoughts of death or suicide, or thoughts of hurting others or threats to others

For suggestions about how to effectively approach a student, visit the Wellness Exchange website or call 212-443-9999 to seek advice on how to address the situation.


interpersonal relationships indicators


a) Traumatic or difficult to handle intimate relationships

  • Data Source: ACHA #33E
  • Survey Question: Within the last 12 months, has any of the following been traumatic or very difficult for you to handle: intimate relationships
  • Definition: proportion responding yes

b) Received information on relationship difficulties

  • Data Source: ACHA #2B2
  • Survey Question: Have you received information on the following topics from your college or university: “relationship difficulties"?
  • Definition: students interested in receiving relationship difficulties information; proportion who reported having actually received relationship difficulties information

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  2. American College Health Association. (2010). American College Health Association - National College Assessment 2010 NYU Data. Hanover, MD: Author.
  3. Swenson, L.M., Nordstrom, A., & Hiester, M. (2008). The role of peer relationships in adjustment to college. Journal of College Student Development, 49(6), 551-568
  4. Riggio, R.E., Watring, K.P., & Throckmorton, B. (1993). Social skills, social support, and psychosocial adjustment. Personality and Individual Differences, 15(3), 275-280.
  5. Edwards, K. J., Hershberger, P. J., Russell, R. K., & Markert, R. J. (Sept 2001). Stress, negative social exchange, and health symptoms in university students. Journal of American College Health, 50(2), 75.
  6. Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K., McGuire, L., Robles, T.F., & Glaser, R. (2002). Emotions, morbidity, and mortality: New perspectives from psychoneuroimmunology. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 83–107.
  7. Adams, G.R., Berzonsky, M.D., & Keating, L. (2006). Psychosocial resources in first-year university students: The role of identity processes and social relationships. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35(1), 81–91.
  8. Lopez, F. G. (1991). Patterns of family conflict and their relation to college student adjustment. Journal of Counseling and Development, 69(3), 257-260.
  9. Bennett, D. C., B.A., Guran, E. L., B.A., Ramos, M. C., PhD., & Margolin, G. (2011). College students' electronic victimization in friendships and dating relationships: Anticipated distress and associations with risky behaviors. Violence and Victims, 26(4), 410-429.
  10. Campbell, K. M., Turner-McGrievy, G., Havas, S., Buller, D. & Nebeling, L. (2008). Mediation of adult fruit and vegetable consumption in the national 5 a day for better health community studies. Annual of Behavioral Medicine, 35, 49-60.
  11. Lacy, W.B. (1978). Interpersonal relationships as mediators of structural effects: College student socialization in a traditional and an experimental university environment. Sociology of Education, 51(3), 201-211.
  12. Brustein, W.I. (2007). The global campus: Challenges and opportunities for higher education in North America. Journal of Studies in International Education, 11, 382-391.
  13. Rose-Redwood, C. (2010). The Challenge of fostering cross-cultural interactions: A case study of international graduate students' perceptions of diversity initiatives. College Student Journal, 44(2), 389-399. 
  14. Karahan, T. (2009). The effects of a communication and conflict resolution skill training program on sociotropy levels of university students. Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri, 9(2), 87-797.
  15. Forke, C.M., Myers, R.K., Catallozzi, M., & Schwarz, D.F. (2008). Relationship violence among female and male college undergraduate students. Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, 162(7).
  16. The Joint Committee on National Health Education Standards. (2007). National Health Education Standards: Achieving Excellence (2nd Edition). Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society.
  17. Dusselier, L., Dunn, B., Wang, Y., Shelley, M.C., & Whalen, D.F. (2005). Personal, health, academic, and environmental predictors of stress for residence hall students. Journal of American College Health, 54(1), 15-24.
  18. American College Health Association. (2011). American College Health Association - National College Health Assessment 2011 NYU Data. Hanover, MD: Author.
  19. Kemerer, F. R., Baldridge, J. V., & Green, K. S. (1982). Strategies for Effective Enrollment Management. Washington, DC: American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
  20. Umberson, D., & Montez, J.K. (2010). Social relationships and health: A flashpoint for health policy. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51, S54.
  21. Lacy, W.B. (1978). Interpersonal relationships as mediators of structural effects: College student socialization in a traditional and an experimental university environment. Sociology of Education, 51(3), 201-211.
  22. Kemerer, F. R., Baldridge, J. V., & Green, K. S. (1982). Strategies for Effective Enrollment Management. Washington, DC: American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
  23. Umberson, D., & Montez, J.K. (2010). Social relationships and health: A flashpoint for health policy. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51, S54.
  24. Karahan, T. (2009). The effects of a communication and conflict resolution skill training program on sociotropy levels of university students. Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri, 9(2), 87-797.
  25. The Joint Committee on National Health Education Standards. (2007). National Health Education Standards: Achieving Excellence (2nd Edition). Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society.
  26. ACHA 2010 NYU Data


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