The Colby Strippers provide support and resources for diabetics on campus

A new club has surfaced at the College with a deceptive name but a clear goal. The Colby Strippers, founded by Erik Douds ’14, is a new club that provides students and faculty with diabetes resources and support. The name refers to the paper strips that diabetics use to test their insulin levels.

“Colby Strippers…is a club for diabetes education and support,” Douds said. “It’s Colby’s official diabetes club… it’s really important because there are a lot of community groups already on campus but there’s not one for diabetics.” Douds hopes that the club will provide support for first-years with diabetes to make the transition from at-home assistance to on-campus independence easier. “When I came here, I kind of felt stranded and definitely by myself with everything,” Douds shared. “So I definitely want to make sure when I leave that [first-years] and other people have a community where they feel comfortable.” Douds is very open about his diabetes, which is one of the reasons that he wanted to start Colby Strippers. He was first diagnosed at 16 years old; so he has had many years of experience on caring for his health needs. The transition from living at home to college can be increasingly difficult for students with diabetes. “The shift of dining hall food and social scenes… it’s all completely new and it’s hard for every [first-year],” he said. “On top of that, your diabetes reacts to everything… Stress and meeting people and going on COOT… there’s a whole diabetic aspect to that also, so I feel like I always have two mindsets.”

Douds and the other members of the Colby Strippers hope to provide help and advice to first-year diabetics during their transition to life on the Hill. Douds says that the club is “slowly growing,” but he hopes it will gain momentum and involve all the first years on campus with diabetes. “There’s a large amount of [first-years] who have diabetes, so we’re trying to find them. There’s supposed to be around 12,” he said.

Douds also wants to provide awareness to the rest of the College community about the disease and how it affects diabetics. He explained that stress, especially in college, can be a large factor in causing blood sugar to spike. “This week, I had two tests and my senior project had to be finished, and that was really stressful.,” he explained, “As a student, some things you might not consider is that when you’re stressed your body is still normal, but when I’m stressed my blood sugar spikes, and that makes it even harder to study…” Douds also explained the biological effect of stress for him as a diabetic: “There’s a lack of concentration and a light-headed feeling that makes it harder to focus. So as a student, that’s a really big disadvantage because when I have work it’s even harder to do because I have diabetes. It’s a vicious cycle.”

In addition to the Colby Strippers, Douds is also working to spread awareness outside of the College community. He started a fund in high school entitled “The Erik Douds Pediatric Diabetes Fund” with the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Foundation in his home state of New Jersey. “The main goal is to give underprivileged kids the funds to pay for their diabetes… it’s expanded to provide camp scholarships and other educational material,” Douds said. So far, Douds has raised $18,000 with his fund and is hoping to raise more.

“Diabetes is a 24-hour thing, and I never stop thinking about it. It’s also constantly changing,” Douds said. He hopes that Colby Strippers can provide significant support so that its members can thrive in college while properly managing their diabetes and overall health. For more information on Colby Strippers and living with college diabetes, go to Doud’s website, collegediabetes.com.