Crumbling Foundations and Fraying Nets: Intersections of Public Policy & Mental Health on Campus
While mental health is arguably one of the most prominent issues student affairs professionals engage with on a day-to-day basis, ranging from student needs to maintain or manage existing mental illness or stress to providing outlets and avenues for promotion of mental wellness, it is almost invisible in state and federal policymaking. In this post by Teri Lyn Hinds, NASPA's Director of Policy Research and Advocacy discusses how state and federal policy conversations can add to the mental distress and strain for many students. Despite this, it is rare to see legislation specifically address the growing mental health demands (or the costs of those demands) facing campuses. Policies implemented or being considered nationally in the past year would reverse the gains made to strengthen our general public health and mental health safety nets afforded by the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion in many states. This erosion comes at a time when students are bombarded on all dimensions of health and wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, occupational, and financial.
Planning for Positive and Peaceful Campus Demonstrations
The heart of any rally is the cause or issue, and often the cause has had a personal and emotional effect on students. While some demonstration participants intend to raise awareness, educate and advocate for change, others may simply be angry, hurt, or feel they are in an “us vs. them” situation. Students may feel victimized or marginalized by responses to the protest or issue, especially if the responses come from campus staff, faculty or other students. Providing campus/off-campus resources for having difficult conversations and continued advocacy is important for students’ civic engagement, and also providing resources for students’ mental and physical health may provide critically needed support for these students in crisis.
Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Activate Readiness Modules
At Grand Valley State University (GVSU) our mission is to educate students to shape their lives, their professions and their societies. As part of our campus offerings, we seek to enhance civic engagement opportunities through co-curricular experiences with a critical frame that supports addressing complex issues. This philosophy supports AAC&U’s Shared Futures Initiative, which believes students live in an interdependent and unjust world and that higher education can prepare them to thrive in the world, while imaginatively and dutifully remedying inequalities and problems (Core Competencies in Civic Engagement, 2013).
Lend your voice to something bigger than yourself
The 2018 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Meeting (CLDE18), being held June 6-9, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County, in Anaheim, California, offers an opportunity for student affairs professionals, faculty, community partners, and students, to participate in discourse around the fundamentals of democracy and gain inspiration from our featured speakers to take back to your campus community. #CLDE18 will rejuvenate your passion for activating your students to be the change they want to see in the world.
Season’s Grievances: The PPD Celebrates Festivus
For members of the Public Policy Division the month of December meant keeping a watchful eye on two important pieces of legislation in addition to taking time to celebrate the merriment of seasonal holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. The first bill was H.R. 4508 “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform Act” or ”PROSPER Act.“ This 472-page bill was introduced to the House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce on December 1st and marked-up and passed out of the committee less than two weeks later on December 12th. The second bill was the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed by President Trumped on December 22nd, which was just in time for anyone who celebrates the December 23rd Festivus holiday.
Civic Engagement and Volunteerism
As part of the welcome to campus activities at Eastern Illinois University each fall, all incoming students participate in JumpStart 2 Give. JumpStart is a 3-hour service project where we send students out in groups of at least 40 to participate in projects in our community at large. We send students to locations that could be a resource to them while they are on campus and call this community home. We send them to help clean up the trails around our lake so they learn about this amazing community resource less than 2 miles from campus. We send them to local food pantries so they know of the places to go if they need help putting food on their own tables. One of our most popular activities is making fleece blankets for local children for a program called One Stop Community Christmas.