Student Wellness Services  /  Advocate Programs  /  Peer Advocate  /  FAQs


  • The selection process will happen during Winter term and decisions will be made before Spring term. Candidates submit an online application and indicate where they are interested in serving as PA. 
  • Applications will be reviewed by search committee (Counseling, TA/RLC, RA & student representation from each house) to determine who will receive an interview. We will solicit feedback on candidates from students in the house (each house will have the opportunity to provide positive or negative feedback on any applicant for a position in their community) 
  • Interviews conducted by interview committee (Counseling, RLC, RAs and 2-3 student representatives from each residence) to determine who will be selected for the class. 

Depending on the the numbers of PAs for each year, we may have to limit the term serve in the official role for 1 year after which time you can remain available to your peers for support. This will allow others who desire to serve in the PA role an opportunity to do so. In the case this occurs, you will not have the PA title but you can still be available in your house to support your peers. Additionally, there will be a process to be a returning PA (please review the Returning PA page for information).

No, you are not going to be held to more strict reporting guidelines. You will be expected to consult/collaborate (as you do currently) with other entities (RA, RLC, CC, etc), as needed, to ensure that those coming to you are receiving the appropriate level of help.

There will not be compensation in the form of stipend, board/room credit, or other formal payment. The goal is not to make people in these position mandated reporters.

All Peer Advocates must complete a 1-term class (for which they will receive academic credit, 3 units). They will also attend a bi-weekly meeting the following year in order to have the opportunity to consult and learn more information.

The deans have said they will approve the extra units for any qualified candidate chosen through the selection process. Students are encouraged to strongly consider how the additional units may impact their academic load.

  • We may need to look at this on a case-by-case basis, but if someone wants to do both and has the time to commit to both classes (and the ability to manage the rest of their coursework), I don't think we would turn away a qualified candidate. It is important for candidates to think carefully about what they feel they can manage because academics should be the top priority. 
  • If some communities have a lot of interest in both positions, it may be more beneficial for that community if there is less overlap.

Being involved in such instances does not automatically disqualify someone from being a Peer Advocate. It is important, however, that students considering the role are able to manage the demands of being a student and role model for their peers.

We have created a plan for those who may be interested in returning as a PA to apply for the position. Each year there will be 4 returning slots available (with the exception of Avery/Bechtel which will have 6).

All comments will be read by us. Discomfort with comments being read is an indication that perhaps another level of intervention is necessary. There shouldn't be anything that is being said that is irrelevant to one's ability to do the job well.

If during the class, PAs decide to remove themselves from the position, we will search for an alternate to fill the role and take over the room. If room picks have already happened when someone decides to leave the program, we will evaluate their need for the room pick based on timing and individual circumstances. Should someone apply, do all of the work, and during fall/winter decide that they need to focus on other things, we will not make them move out of their space, and rather we will work with the house leadership to find an appropriate replacement from other people living in the house. Should someone join the program after the course has started, they will need to meet with us for interim training and attend the class the following year. 

The PA website has information regarding resignation and reinstatement under the PA resources heading.

We have formed the PA Advisory Committee (PAAC) to meet one time per month. The PAAC representative must be a returning PA and the alternate to the PAAC representative must also be a returning PA (the alternate steps in when the main rep is unable to participate in a meeting).

This will continue to be a part of the selection process and is taken into account during decision making.

We continue to involve students and RAs from each house to ensure that anything that is not assessed during an interview is accounted for.

All this means is that we expect PAs to manage their own behavior and follow rules. You are not required/being asked to report violations.

We hope that through the selection process we are able to select PAs who would not be involved in such instances. However, if this does happen, we will need to gradually phase them out of the position. We can easily state that the person decided to step away from the position for personal reasons.

Please keep in mind that this is determined on a case-by-case basis and a BoC or CRC violation does not automatically result in dismissal from the PA position.

We will send out feedback forms to each house. Also keep in mind that we will be in closer contact with PAs because of bi-weekly meetings we will have with them.

It is the latter. Each house will always have a certain number of PAs + we will have the Caltech Connect training so that those who would like to provide general support still can.

This will be offered regularly throughout the term and will involve a component focused on listening skills/engaging others in open dialogue and a suicide prevention component that integrates experiential practice and role plays to promote a student's ability to engage in a discussion with a peer about suicide, provide appropriate support, and refer to appropriate resources.

The interview committee will roughly be 50/50 students and non-students (i.e. RAs, RLCs, PA program advisors), We will also solicit feedback from the house at large about the candidates for their community.

The course will serve as a good indicator for readiness, and if someone should prove not to be a good fit for the role, we will discuss this with that person and decide the best course of action from there. Depending on the timing, this may allow us to recruit another student to fill the PA position that is vacated. We will always initially work to resolve any issues through education and mentoring prior to moving toward any form of resignation or dismissal.

We welcome any applications from current freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, and the decision will be made based on individual fit for the role, as well as a consideration for how the selected candidates will function as a team and provide support for as many students as possible in their community.

This course will expose you to the basic skills necessary to engage in a supportive consultation with a distressed peer. You will learn about basic listening and attending skills and, by the end of the quarter, will be trained in Campus Connect which provides you with the knowledge and skills necessary to engage with a peer who endorses suicidal thoughts. This course will expose students to the different mental health concerns common to the university population and to Caltech and they will learn how to recognize and support their struggling peers in the role of peer advocate. Course topics include relationships and intimate partner violence, substance abuse, sexual assault, depression, eating disorders, suicide, depression, LGBTQ issues, and grief and bereavement. As part of this course you will also meet with Mark Stapf on a Saturday during the term to learn CPR/First Aid.

Based on student feedback we understand that students often go to friends first and so we are also adding a general Caltech Cares training that allows individuals interested to learn basic skills necessary to be available as support to their peers. There is no way for anyone to force someone else to seek a formal support person. We are also moving away from the notion of "individual coverage" because not only does this make people uncomfortable but also there is no research evidence that it ensures the safety of others. Instead, we want PAs to be open and accessible resources who can connect peers to an appropriate level of support based on their training.

The PAs will be resources available to everyone in their community whether they live on or off campus. Marks/Braun and potentially Bechtel will be the only unaffiliated options, and we have allotted PAs for both communities. This is open to change over time based on the needs of the off-campus population.

After completion of the class, the PAs will be involved in regular meetings with the program advisors for overall support and with their RAs and house PA groups to best meet the needs of their specific communities. Office hours will also be offered the entire academic year for another opportunity for consultation.

When someone is not selected for the position, we or supportive people from the house will check in with them and make sure they continue to feel connected to their community.

Each quarter we will be offering Caltech Connect training that provides anyone who desires to be involved in supporting others an opportunity to learn information that would allow them to do so. Keep in mind, this training would be less than that of a PA but will allow for the ability to provide some level of support.

Mon - Fri
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
1239 Arden Rd.
Mail Code 1-8
Pasadena, California 91125
Health (626) 395-6393 | Counseling (626) 395-8331
(626) 585-1522