Below is a statement said by Mali Golomb-Leavitt at our press conference last week:
We all know the statistics that have been surfacing throughout this movement. There is currently one psychiatrist serving the mental health needs of 24,000 students. To meet SU’s own accreditation agency’s recommendations that the senior administration themselves have cited in responses, the Counseling Center would need to hire a minimum of six counselors to adequately serve the needs of our campus.
Chancellor Syverud said during our very first meeting with him that choosing between our demands was like choosing between his children. And yet he thinks he has given us a “final” response without addressing over half of our demands in conversation even once, including mental health concerns. We will not leave without a conversation.
Instead, the only response to the mental health section says it will discuss these issues with the Student Association advisory board.
The response gave no assurance that they will take these conversations and their outcomes seriously as we have seen how easily they disregard other bodies of governance.
Secondly, presumably this SA advisory board will have many other concerns to deal with. Mental health needs a team of people including student representation whose only initiatives are to address the widespread disparities in mental healthcare on this campus. Our request to have a workgroup devoted to mental health concerns was ignored.
Finally, I need to reiterate that this is a clear example of senior administration redirecting our demands into bureaucratic processes with no guarantees of meeting them. The concrete demands in our document were not guidelines or suggestions. They are absolute, life and death necessities and we will not go home until we have commitments on them. There is no assurance that SA advisory board will ensure that these specific demands are met.
To be clear about what the stakes are here: We are talking about providing resources for students struggling with mental health on campus, and these include students whose lives are at risk as we speak. We have emergency medical transportation to take psychiatric emergencies to hospitalization after they have hurt themselves. We do not have consistent transportation to the therapy that can prevent those situations.
1,100 college students commit suicide every year. We cannot wait for these tragedies. Commitments such as hiring at least two additional psychiatric providers are non-negotiable.
We are not going home without these commitments.