The Beacon Book Club is a weekly event held by Project Lighthouse where Algonquin College students are invited to participate in discussions based on their weekly reading.
Similar to Spill the Tea, the main goal of the club is to allow students to have open discussions about topics that may be difficult to touch on in other circumstances. The subjects are pre-determined based on the book that was selected for the semester.
Sarah Crawford, the manager for sexual violence prevention, harm reduction and wellness at Algonquin College, is one of the club’s coordinators.
“We started the beacon stuff online during the pandemic, recognizing that students probably needed other students to talk to,” Crawford said. “Some students don’t want to access mental health support systems in the same way, so offering peer services may be more accessible than traditional counselling.”
Crawford has her master’s degree in sexology and has made it one of her main priorities to provide a safe and informative environment for students to have safe and accessible resources during their time in college.
Nader Ibrahim, a business fundamentals student at Algonquin College, was an active participant throughout Tuesday’s discussion, bringing up different vulnerable subjects in a manner that provided an easy and comfortable space for other participants.
“I’ve met a lot of great people with open minds because of the environment,” Ibrahim said. “It’s a good environment if you just want to talk about something that you can’t generally talk about with a therapist, friends, or loved ones. It gives you an open spot where you can talk about risky things without judgment.”
One of the peer support students, Oniqua Kamaka, a human resources student who works with the Beacon Health & Wellness Space located in the Student Commons, helps with the group every week and is an enthusiastic participant.
“We try to have this space to give people the opportunity to talk about sex. Not everyone is comfortable doing so and it’s important,” Kamaka said.
Having an actively participating peer allows an accessible and even playing field for those who wish to seek help.
Crawford stresses the importance of allowing open dialogue and does her best to give advice and guidance to students. She emphasized that if people don’t know how to express what it is they want from their partners, proper consent is harder to achieve.
Ibrahim said he joined the group to get a better understanding of how to love someone.
“I’ve always approached relationships thinking that I need to love people the way I think I need to be loved, rather than love someone the way they may need to be,” Ibrahim said.
The Beacon Book Club happens every Tuesday from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Health and Wellness Zone which is located on the third floor of the Student Commons building.