ASG aims to address students’ Wildcat Wellness concerns


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

Uncertainty surrounding the duration of virtual classes this quarter raises concerns for students who experienced previous Wildcat Wellness periods.

Pavan Acharya, Reporter

Associated Student Government is working to address issues regarding dining halls, academics and mental health during Wildcat Wellness.

Northwestern ASG released a survey Dec. 20 giving students a chance to “voice any concerns” regarding Wildcat Wellness, a two-week mandatory quarantine period that began Jan. 1. ASG President and SESP senior Christian Wade said most of the feedback ASG received referred to the Wildcat Wellness periods from the last academic year.

“We definitely got some good feedback from students,” Wade said. “The biggest theme across the feedback we got was that (last year’s Wildcat Wellness) was really isolating and quite honestly depressing.” 

Chair of Campus Life and Weinberg junior Jason Hegelmeyer will meet Tuesday with Vice President for Student Affairs Julie Payne-Kirchmeier to discuss student feedback from the survey. Hegelmeyer said he will address student mental health and wellness issues, and continue to advocate for more locations where students can exercise and feel fresh air.

There are limited ways to address mental health concerns, Hegelmeyer said, until NU expands its mental health facilities. He added that one of these expansions would include increasing the number of Counseling and Psychological Services providers.

ASG is also working to amend concerns students have previously raised regarding remote learning. Chair of Academics and Weinberg senior Campbell Schafer said ASG’s Academics Committee wrote a letter to faculty and administrators Sunday regarding accommodations for online learning. 

The letter will be distributed within the coming days. In it, ASG recommends professors  include built-in sick days, offer in-person and virtual office hours and continue to use digital versions of readings.

“We also included some feedback on good Zoom etiquette,” Schafer said. “We had a couple of different ideas for how to build more of a community even within a virtual space within your classrooms.” 

Wade and Hegelmeyer said dining hall options will also be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

Many students shared concerns about on-campus meal quality and availability in ASG’s Wildcat Wellness survey, Wade said. 

During last year’s Wildcat Wellness periods, meal pickups for quarantined students occurred just twice a day. Now, they occur three times a day.

Part of Wade’s campaign for ASG president revolved around meeting with Compass Group, the University’s food service provider, to review the quality and selection of food to make meals more simple. Wade said ASG will continue working with Compass and receiving student feedback regarding food and dining this quarter.

Schafer said ASG is in a difficult situation due to the uncertain duration of virtual classes.

“To develop a new policy or strategy that is unique to online learning and then to (make) that change in two weeks is difficult for us as well,” Schafer said. 

Many students also don’t plan to return to campus until the end of the first week of Wildcat Wellness.

“(My position) is very much a do-as-you-go position,” Schafer said. “As the next couple of days unfold, we might be getting different feedback.” 

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Twitter: @PavanAcharya02

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