April 5, 2011

Calling for Commitment to Student Health

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In the Spring of 2010 we witnessed a low point of student well-being on this campus. While we as students tried to address these issues, our actions in isolation can only go so far. We are only students for four years at this University — making it hard for our efforts to last past our last walk around the Arts Quad. We need to start institutionalizing a regard for student health on campus.

We are calling on students to actively engage their fellow classmates, their advisors and themselves to find ways to live a balanced life. We are lucky enough to attend a University with one of the largest support networks in the world — including but not limited to mental health, community programming and resources that allow the future to be what we make of it. But we can only benefit from this environment if we actively work towards bettering ourselves and towards helping each other.

We are calling on the faculty to view Cornell and their classes in a larger context. Mental health in its most basic form is student well being. Let’s change the discussion from focusing on tragedy to focusing on student health. Caring about students is more than just addressing problems of stress or depression, it is about understanding the role of students in relation to all other things on this campus. It is about accepting the fact that besides prelims there are also sporting competitions, meetings aimed at addressing issues facing our world or simply a needed respite.

We are calling on the administration to facilitate dialogue between faculty and students. The administration should engage both parties to ensure that the discussion continues and outlives the short time frame that each individual student has on this campus. We urge the administration to act upon the results of this dialogue.

There are many opportunities for all these parties to address these calls to action. For instance, Wednesday we will be holding a Faculty Forum in the Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room at 3 p.m. to talk about these issues.

Cornell is a living and learning environment. We want to emphasize the fact that Cornell puts living before learning when it utters this motto. Our education is more than just one class. We are students dedicated to academia but also to a larger college experience. We urge the faculty, the administration and most of all every undergraduate student to entertain this evolution of student growth and to help us continue this discussion.

Vincent Andrews is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the president of the Student Assembly. He may be reached at vpa4@cornell.edu. Natalie Raps is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and the S.A. president-elect and vice president for public relations. She may be reached at nrr25@cornell.edu. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.

Original Author: Natalie Raps