It’s encouraging to see that student struggles and concerns about mental health on campus are becoming more visible. Last week’s editorial, “A campus of compassion: Addressing mental health concerns in the classroom,” represented a promising step in that direction but missed the mark.
The editorial suggests that, as a first step, the Dean’s Office should send out an informative all-campus email outlining all mental health resources available to students. We fully agree that an informative email is necessary. However, the editorial portrays the mental health situation on campus as more intractable than it is and fails to recognize the recent work and collaboration by several student groups to improve course syllabi addenda. With regard to mental health language in syllabi – we wholeheartedly agree that professors should address mental illness directly as they would sickness, concussions or other visible health issues. We are in agreement that the inclusion of a statement on mental health in syllabi would encourage a more open dialogue about mental health between professors and students. The Mental Health Committee and the Gargoyle Society have been working to correct this issue. Our efforts have Dean Sandstrom’s support, and we are currently preparing a College Council resolution in support of the issue to be voted on in an upcoming meeting. We were pleased with this progress and collaboration and were disappointed that this was not acknowledged in the article.
Perhaps most importantly, the editorial does not give due credit to those professors, administrators and staff who are already demonstrating a strong commitment to make ours “a campus of compassion.” Multiple workshops and panels on Claiming Williams Day were devoted to mental health on campus, including “Mental Health At Williams,” “Williams, Disability and Me: The Morality of Structural Change” and “Quitting at Williams.” “Mental Health At Williams” alone had Dean Sandstrom, Director of Psychological Counseling Services Wendy Adam and multiple other professors and administrators in attendance.
We believe that concerted effort between student groups is the best way to affect change to foster a healthy, compassionate campus and should be highlighted in the Record whenever possible.
– Julia Randall ’19, on behalf of the Mental Health Committee