ASG passes resolution calling for Essential NU on mental health

Stephanie Haines, Reporter

Associated Student Government unanimously passed Wednesday a resolution calling for an information session on mental health issues that incoming freshman would take before starting classes.

The ASG action comes at a time of increased discussion surrounding mental health resources on campus. Student groups sprung into action after Weinberg junior Alyssa Weaver took her own life last month while studying in London, pushing for increased awareness of mental health issues. The Daily also recently ran an article detailing possible shortcomings with available mental health resources at NU.

The resolution, authored by ASG senators Noah Kane and Chris Harlow, asks the administration to create an Essential NU program about mental health issues and evaluate ways to provide more mental health resources through Counseling and Psychological Services. Incoming students would be required to complete the Essential NU during Wildcat Welcome.

Alex Van Atta, ASG student life vice president, helped sponsor the resolution with ASG senator McKenzie Maxson. Van Atta, a McCormick junior, said he proposed the idea to the two authors Monday, and by Wednesday they had drafted the resolution to be presented as new business at the senate meeting.

Because “it was something we really thought was urgent,” Van Atta said, the resolution was moved to old business and passed unanimously. Van Atta said it was important not to lose “momentum” on the issue since Wednesday was the last senate meeting before winter break.

Van Atta said recent events such as Weaver’s passing and The Daily’s story helped highlight how urgent the mental health situation is on campus.

“It contributed to how prompt we wanted to go with the resolution,” Van Atta said.

NU Active Minds has been petitioning for an Essential NU on mental health since Nov. 16. The student organization created a Facebook page that urges its peer to support the group’s submission to ASG’s 10K Initiative, which grants $10,000 for a student idea to improve NU. So far, more than 570 people have joined the Facebook event page.

NU Active Minds spokeswoman Shaina Coogan said she was “absolutely excited” to hear ASG drafted and passed a resolution supporting the improvement of mental health services and culture on campus.

The Weinberg senior and former Daily staffer said she does not know what the resolution means for her group’s petition for the 10K Initiative, but she is glad that it at least draws attention to mental health issues.

“ASG is showing that this is an entirety-of-a-student-body issue. It’s really heartening to see ASG making it a priority,” Coogan said. “Even if we don’t win the money, we got people’s attention.”

Van Atta said he thinks though the 10K Initiative would certainly help create a mental health Essential NU, he said he thinks this effort also needs attention from the administration.

“I’m really supportive of the fact that mental health has to be supported by the administration,” Van Atta said. “The 10k is a one time thing, not every year. In order for this Essential NU to be a success, it needs administrative support.”

Ani Ajith, senate speaker and Weinberg junior, said the resolution can be used in a variety of ways to enhance mental health services on campus and support the University’s efforts.

“This is a definite statement of ASG to student body reaffirming the need to have discussion about mental health on campus and start treating it with attention it deserves,” Ajith said.