After Weaver suicide, Schapiro assures ‘close look’ at Northwestern’s mental health services

Paulina Firozi, Campus Editor

University President Morton Schapiro promised Tuesday that Northwestern would take necessary steps to ensure mental health resources on campus are adequate in the wake of Weinberg junior Alyssa Weaver’s suicide.

Weaver took her own life while studying abroad in London last week. The 20-year-old’s mother said Monday that her daughter was in a “dark place” before her death and urged other students dealing with mental health issues to talk about their problems.

“Trust me, we will take a close look at what resources we have available and what resources we might need,” Schapiro told The Daily. “We’re always looking at that anyway, but we should be taking a look at it now.”

Several student groups have urged more University involvement in creating resources for students seeking help. NU Active Minds, which aims to spread awareness about mental health, is vying for Associated Student Government’s 10K Initiative to establish a mental health information session for incoming students during Wildcat Welcome.

Mike Sladek, vice president of University Psychology Association, said recent events have sparked an increased need for continued conversation that involves NU administration.

“On a college campus, everyone’s stressed,” Sladek said. “It’s something that shouldn’t be swept under the rug.”

The Weinberg senior praised NU’s efforts in trying to help students and appreciated a “proactive response” from the administration.

“The University does do a great job to do what they can,” he said. “There just needs to be a refocus of those resources for mental health on campus.”

Schapiro said he was not aware of any concerns about NU’s mental health services until now. He pointed to the the major remodelling of Searle Hall, which he said was criticized as a “substandard facility” in the past.

“We have a great facility, but are we using it optimally?” Schapiro said. “The reason we did that whole thing … is that we wanted to provide for health and safety.”

Katie Sanford, NU Active Minds co-president, said she was surprised to hear that Schapiro had not been aware of student complaints about mental health resources on campus. She said the University had been petitioned to add support groups on campus such as NU Listens.

Schapiro said Weaver’s death, the second within the NU community this quarter, gives the school an opportunity to reflect and “to be a better institution and learn to be better people as individuals.”

“I would think that we should all try to learn from it,” he said. “To learn personally and for me professionally what we can do to keep our students safe.”

A candlelight vigil in memory of Weaver is planned for 8 p.m. Thursday at The Rock, hosted by the Cultural and Community Studies Residential College, the Boxing Club, the Brady Scholars Program and Chi Omega.