By ANNE LIU ’17
This year’s College Government (CG)elections have called much attention to mental health awareness and resources on campus. Wellesley’s Stone Center Counseling Service regularly provides confidential one on one counseling and a variety of outreach programs to students, from small group dialogues and workshops to major campus-wide discussions.
“We pay attention to the individual needs of students in the context of their functioning at Wellesley College. We also focus, from a community perspective, on the needs of the College at large in order to foster a collaborative relationship with all segments of this institution,” Stone Center stated in their mission statement.
Coming to college is a drastic transition from the comforts of a familiar environment, friends and family, and students undergo a time of enormous growth. Thus, new students need the support of a community to help with possible growing pains, and the College regularly advertises resources offered by the Stone Center.
Last fall, a group of students created the Mental Health Ad-Hoc Committee (MHAHC) to address student body concerns about the existing limited mental health resources available on campus. Among many of their proposed reforms, they hope to survey students and extrapolate underlying causes for anxiety, depression and instability that may involve issues related to race, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation. In addition, they hope to develop the most effective methods that help students cope, whether that involves more walk-in hours or staff on call. They aim to help the student body through difficult transitions stemming from homesickness or academic pressure.
This semester, both CG presidential candidates emphasized mental health reform in their campaign platforms.
Celeste Zumwalt ’15 ran on a platform called ACT, which stands for accessibility, community and transparency. In particular, Zumwalt’s accessibility platform plans to boost special interest group representation in Senate.
“A priority of mine would be to make the senatorial election process clearer and amend the constitution to increase eligibility and boost senate participation,” Zumwalt said.
In doing so, she hopes to amplify key voices that understand students’ opinions and feelings when discussing the College’s safe spaces, mental health and safety.
On the other hand, Hana Glasser ’15 ran on a platform that seeks to reform mental health, rethink equity and reimagine Senate. In her plan for mental health reform, she discussed short and long term goals, most of which rely heavily on the MHAHC, which she chaired earlier this year. For her short term goals, she hopes to use comparative reports from comparable institutions, which includes the Ivy League universities, to help shape specific program initiatives or scheduling structures. She also wants campus police to start printing phone numbers on the back of student OneCards called “No-Brainer Emergency Measures” Furthermore, she plans to expand wintersession course offerings so that students who have left campus for health or personal reasons may easily catch up on credits and distribution requirements when they return.
“We’re not necessarily asking for a large increase in the number of courses offered, but we’re looking for a wider array of courses over distributions and departments. Course data from the past four years shows that courses offered in rarer distributions have competitive enrollments,” Glasser said.
Additionally, she hopes to empower peer health groups by working to destigmatize mental illness on campus.
“Several groups expressed that they would like to be invited back for student leadership training and to play a larger role in first-year orientation. We want first-year students to walk away from orientation with a full understanding of what these groups have to offer,” Glasser said.
While, both candidates stressed the need for mental health reform on campus, a majority of the student body yesterday voted in Hana Glasser ’15 as the next CG president of Wellesley College.