On Tuesday, The Student Government Association (SGA) passed resolution 15U025 regarding the mental health of the student body. The resolution addressed a number of students’ concerns, including wait times at the Counseling Center.
In the resolution, SGA states that no student should ever need to return to the Counseling Center in order to be met with by a counselor. The sentiment that high wait times could lead to increased levels of depression and even self-harm was also asserted.
“One message we want to consistently give is that students who show up in crisis are seen by a counselor immediately and most students who seek counseling here receive it,” said Hughes-Troutman. “Beyond that, all students do not need nor want ongoing individual counseling. Our data support that.”
The resolution included content dealing with the issue of an “imbalance in the power dynamic between students and faculty,” which was a topic deemed by SGA to be among the most relevant when taking on the issue of mental health within the student body. According to the resolution, this allows faculty members, usually professors, to take advantage of the grievance system, resulting in undue stress for students.
Andrew Block, Speaker of the Undergraduate House of Representatives, explained that often, as is the case when a large curve is applied, professors have a lot of decision-making power in the final determination of grades. Therefore, grievances which are warranted may not always be filed due to students’ fears that the professor may use the incident as a reason to decrease the amount of the curve.
“Ultimately, students feel powerless when addressing any sort of concern with professors because of the professor’s power over their grade and over future recommendations,” said Dillon Roseen, Undergraduate Student Body President.
Roseen further described how certain professors read grades out in class, email class lists naming specific students or cite “stupid questions” asked by members of the class. He also indicated that individual departments tend to have related grievances brought against their faculty members repeatedly without any change. Aerospace Engineering faculty in particular are recipients of a great majority of these repeated grievance filings, according to Roseen.
Leaders in SGA described how the drafting process was heavily based around input from the student body, from talking with student organizations and talking with students.
“I think all of this was initially sparked certainly by the student suicide a few weeks ago, and understanding that a lot of work has been done we have to credit previous student leaders and the administration for starting to improve mental health on campus,” said Roseen. “But what we didn’t want to happen was, because we have a few feathers in our hat of achievements that we’ve made in improving mental health, we didn’t want that momentum to stop.”
Tech administration recently hired Dr. Steven Allwood to the Counseling Center, but Block and Roseen said that more steps were needed.