Last Monday, on Nov. 8, students and Rowan community members held a rally in front of Savitz Hall on Mullica Road where they expressed that change and more resources regarding mental health from the university is a must.
Students crouched down to the brick walkway to quickly scratch their mental health message on poster board signs with markers. The messages on these posters included, “FENCES DON’T WORK. BETTER MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES NOW!,” and “14 therapists for 20,000 students? NOT ENOUGH!”
The rally was underway once Nat De Kok, one of the organizers, spoke to the crowd to introduce who they were and why they constructed the rally.
“We’re not here to bash the Wellness Center and it’s workers here. We’re in solidarity with them to demand that Rowan do better in addressing and responding to this crisis so we do not lose any more students to dropping out or worse– to mental illness.” Dekok said.
Following De Kok, Ryan Clare, the President of Rowan Progressives and rally organizer delivered the five “demands” that they crafted which include:
- “Building a second Wellness Center facility and expanding the diversity and availability of services”
- “Double the amount of general and specialized mental health professionals.”
- “Dedicate funds toward investing and innovating the quality of university mental health care.”
- “Improve academic accommodations accessibility to adequately include mental health care.”
- “Commit to more transparency with the Rowan community about tragedies that befall our friends, peers and professors… We deserve to know when we lose one of our own.”
“We have resources that many students don’t know about. Getting them to students is one of our challenges. Email is probably not the best way,” said the Associate Director of the Wellness Center Amy Hoch.
Many students claim that the Wellness Center has a long waitlist for service.
“I want students to know they would not be turned away if they walked in and there’s not that waitlist idea,” Hoch said. “I don’t know what the disconnect is. I would love for students to call me directly, email me directly when that happens.
“Not enough is being done to spread the word about [the resources] and they’re underfunded, understaffed. There’s frankly not enough mental health counselors on campus to meet student needs,” Jake Singer, a Rowan alumni from the psychology program, said.
Since the 2018-19 academic year, there have been 18 additional resources to the Wellness Center.
“I noticed that they [Rowan] are allocating a lot of funds to erect all these new buildings and… you don’t have to be a business expert to know where their priorities are at this moment. Imagine if the Discovery Hall down there was another Wellness Center instead,” Earl Garcia, a writing arts major, said. “As the campus continuously expands, so will the amount of people that are going to be attending Rowan, so the wellness center cannot stay the size as it is.”
“Since the Wellness Center closes at 6, I guess that means my depression and anxiety close at 6 too,” said Lexi Oliver, a history education major.
According to Joe Cardona, the vice president of university relations and the university’s spokesperson, Rowan has paired with “TogetherAll, a 24/7 online peer-to-peer support platform that is professionally monitored and connected with Protocall, our overnight on-call service. This provides more options for support for students and a broader net regarding risk assessment.
“We’ve hired additional counselors, counselors who also meet more adverse needs for students that might now be represented. We are in the process of hiring two more. One which is a replacement and one that is an expansion,” Hoch said.
Despite the Wellness Center’s reassurance regarding the abundance of resources and services for mental health, some students disagree that enough is being done on the potential crises.
“This time we are going to demand change and not just try to get our voices heard,” Alexander Quinn said. “We want to see action being taken by Rowan once and for all since this has been happening over many years.”
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