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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Do the Gorilla Thing" campaign earns regional award

  • There’s a lot more to being a gorilla than eating bananas.



    In fact, to “Do the Gorilla Thing” means doing the right thing, which has brought honors to Gorillas In Your Midst, a Pittsburg State University peer education group with J.T. Knoll as advisor.

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  • There’s a lot more to being a gorilla than eating bananas.

    In fact, to “Do the Gorilla Thing” means doing the right thing, which has brought honors to Gorillas In Your Midst, a Pittsburg State University peer education group with J.T. Knoll as advisor.

    “Do the Gorilla Thing” won the Excellence for Outstanding Program award at the April 6 Meeting of the Mines Conference in Kansas City, a gathering of peer education groups from Kansas Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. 

    On April 10, the campus-wide program was also named Outstanding PSU Program at the Leadership and Awards Banquet in Overman Student Center.

    “We had the idea for ‘Do the Gorilla Thing’ at one of our outlandish meetings,”  said Tambree Wilson, student coordinator of Gorillas in Your Midst.

    She said the group tends not to have quiet, orderly meetings. Instead, creativity and imagination frequently erupt and overflow. “Do the Gorilla Thing” was the result of such an upheaval.

    “Doing the Gorilla Thing includes all the things we do, everything about being a gorilla,” Wilson said.

    That covers diversity, vision, honor, academics and leadership. Gorillas in Your Midst aims to educate PSU students, particularly incoming freshmen, about substance abuse, mental health, stress management and bystander behavior.

    Wilson said that a gorilla bystander is the person who steps up and does the right thing, at parties, in classrooms or wherever.

    “A lot of things could be prevented if you took the car keys away from that person, or kept another person from going upstairs,” she said.

    Wilson acknowledges that this can be difficult, especially if someone, though obviously impaired by one or more mind-altering substances, doesn’t want to give up the car keys, or insists that he or she is an adult and can take care of herself/himself.

    “It takes a lot to be a gorilla,” she said.

    Wilson, a junior, received the Wintle Scholarship for Outstanding Leadership and Academic Performance at the PSU Leadership and Awards Banquet. She joined Gorillas in Your Midst in the second semester of her freshman year after she saw the group doing skits during a Freshman Experience session.

    Page 2 of 2 - “They looked like my kind of people,” Wilson said.

    She said it was “unique and awkward” when “Do the Gorilla Thing” won its award at the Meeting of the Minds in Kansas City.

    “It scared me when the presenter started reading my words out loud,” she said. “My face was getting red and my stomach dropped. For the PSU Leadership and Awards Banquet, J.T. made such a big deal about getting us to go to the banquet, so I knew we were getting something.”

    Knoll got something he wasn’t expecting in Kansas City, and received the Outstanding Advisor award at the Meeting of the Minds conference. He promptly gave all the credit to the students.

    “As I told the organizer of the conference, you’re only as good as the students you have in your program, and I have a group that makes me look good,” Knoll said.

    Wilson said that she and one other person wrote up the nomination for Knoll’s award, and told very few people what they were doing.

    “We had to sneak it by him because we knew he would not let us do this because he’s so modest,” she said. “To the group, he’s a father-like figure and takes us under his wing. He would do anything to make our lives a little bit better. We recognize him not only as an advisor, but as a personal hero.”
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