Nov

20

A Chance to Participate

Written by

For the past few weeks, a growing number of students have been informally meeting among themselves, and with the administration, to put into action a long-term plan for promoting “student wellness” at Columbia. The project aims to articulate the problems many students feel afflict the Columbia community, but are not equipped to solve. We’re given plenty of resources to deal with these problems, but rarely do we engage in critical, constructive, dialogue to identify their causes, let alone possible solutions.

Bwog has attended  some of these preliminary discussions, and was struck by the earnest goodwill and determination of Columbians to make a difference. If you are interested in hearing more about this initiative, or might want to help shape the group’s mission, stop by the The Student Wellness Project’s meeting, today at 1 pm in the SGO, on the 5th floor of Lener.

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35 Comments

  1. Hmm  

    There seems to be a fundamental problem with these plans, namely that the administration doesn't give a fuck about the students.

    • That's not fair:  

      they do care about our deep pockets, and worry about our potential for P.R. mishaps.

    • Carolyn  (Bwog Staff)  

      A few students from the project have already met with Dean Valentini, Dean Shollenberger, and Dean Martinez. I was at that meeting, and I'll personally vouch for their sincerity. They care and they're listening.

      • Anonymous  

        since when does bwog vouch for the administration? thought that was spec's job

      • Well,  

        for some reason my second comment didn't submit properly (as actually seems to happen quite often...), but: I noted that the administration did care for our deep pockets and our potential for public relations harm/good. This current "concern" falls in the latter category. If I'm unhappy at Columbia, it's because of the administration, whose callous disregard for me as an individual has marked my four years at this school. There's no worse feeling than the impotence that I regularly experience in my dealings with authority figures here: given the money I'm spending on tuition, and given the service I've done on Columbia's behalf in different fora, you might think that the administrators could at least be courteous in their dealings with me--you'd be mistaken. So please save me the platitudes about the administration's "sincerity": their record of action belies it.

        • Maybe?

          Maybe your cynicism and poor attitude are what is contributing to your negative experience. I have had many caring administrators work with me over my time at Columbia. And enough with the " I pay x number of dollars to go here and deserve better" argument. It's tired and ridiculous.

          • Anonymous  

            Tired, yes. Ridiculous? Not unless (a) you are on finaid and not paying, or (b) 65k is a drop in the bucket

          • Maybe  

            you should work on your rhetorical techniques so that your first resort isn’t to the baseless assumption or ad hominem attack; it bespeaks immaturity. I’d imagine that working with “caring adminstrators” has been rewarding for you, but it’s a far cry from my experience: if I have any cynicism, it’s the result of four years worth of being ground down by this school—and without any recourse. If you had read through what I’d written, you’d see my mention of “the service I’ve done on Columbia’s behalf in different fora”; I wasn’t lying. Regarding the “tuition argument”: maybe you’re the “1%,” or maybe you’re on financial aid. I fall into neither category, and the annual $50,000+ in fees is a burden on my family. So yes, I do pay enough to be treated with courtesy and dignity, as a human being and as a student – or perhaps you disagree?

        • Anonymous  

          Serious question: in what way does the university's "callous disregard" manifest itself? Like the commenter above me, all of my interactions with university administrators (mostly in the form of advising visits and "toolbox meetings" with Feni) have been overwhelmingly positive. Unlike him, I have enough faith in my classmates to trust that the complaints of institutional callousness are founded in something. What is it?

          • Answer  

            In the interest of anonymity this will have to be rather oblique, but I (and others) been very frustrated with one particular aspect of the administration this semester: they've been unfriendly, highly unhelpful, and even borderline deceptive--not at all doing the particular job for which they're paid. It's a very disappointing thing to deal with as a senior.

            On a more straightforward note: I had a serious problem with housing freshman year. It took months of pleading with the housing office and, finally, when those efforts failed, several calls and emails from my parents to resolve it.

            Lastly, to give a more 'day-to-day' example: administrators do not return emails. For example, at one point this semester, I very much needed a certain crucial record. I emailed the administrator in possession of it (an administrator for whom I had previously performed a major--and for me, inconvenient--favor), and he simply didn't respond. This was not an isolated incident--it has happened and continues to happen with alarming frequency.

      • Anonymous  

        Tian Bu dies, no email from Prezbo.
        We get some huge donation, email from Prezbo.

        You vouch for the university. Great. So explain that shit, please.

        • Carolyn  (Bwog Staff)  

          Just to clarify, I don't speak on behalf of Bwog here. I shouldn't have brought my personal feelings about that particular meeting into this comment thread. (Opinions...they're tough to restrain sometimes, and I guess that's what journalism requires!) Your concerns about the administration are certainly valid, and I've personally felt similar frustration, but hopefully we can turn our feelings into something productive. Thanks for continuing the conversation, and sorry for inserting myself into something I shouldn't have.

          • Journalism  

            It's just factual and objective to add that the students behind this project have been meeting with administrators, since that wasn't reported in the post. Personally vouching for their sincerity, on the other hand, is something Bwog (and for that matter Spec) probably shouldn't do. I mean, a Bwog reporter at the meeting can say "It seemed like the admins were sincere," but Bwog shouldn't come out and say, "we can personally vouch for their sincerity."

        • Anonymous  

          And, also, just really quickly, about Tina Bu -- Tina had taken a leave of absence from school for mental health reasons during what would have been her sophomore year. I don't want to point fingers, and I don't want to cause anyone, well, you know, pain, because I know a student's suicide is a deep tragedy for the entire community. But what the hell was the administration doing (or not doing) that they let something like this happen? Surely the fact that the school knew about past problems, and such a thing still occurred, is a giant red flag.

          • Been through the process

            The purpose of the leave of absence is to allow you to get your shit together, with the help of your family and/or whatever support network you have. The university can only go so far into really actively helping you. Your ID becomes inactive, but they'll still allow you to visit campus, and you can make appointments with CPS (up to 10 lifetime visits, after which they refer you to a private shrink near you -- maybe even themselves, since the CPS shrinks also have their own private practices). And of course, they have a place reserved for you when you do finally get enough of your shit together. You email your advisor and your professors every couple of months to give them an update, tell them you're doing well, and when it's closer to the end of the first year of the absence, you start writing the more formal letters saying that you've done X, Y, Z to solve your problems, and you have Plan A, B, C to move forward. The leave is a minimum of 1 year, I forgot the maximum (2 years?), but if you hit the maximum without feeling better or having a plan, you get kicked out.

            This describes the voluntary leave of absence. The Involuntary Leave is a different kettle of fish.

      • Anonymous  

        bwog u used to be so spunky and fresh and now you're just a pawn for the administration. shut the fuck up

  2. CU Forum member  

    It should be made clear that this group of students did not come about as a result of some University initiative. At meetings, we've gone over all of the above issues. We also -- for lack of a better word -- hate how the administration treats students and how little it really achieves. By ''working with the administration,'' it does not mean that we are their cohorts. We are meeting with them to change them. I hope everyone in the Columbia community joins such initiatives, because administration surely will not do it (as they should).

  3. A

    Oh for god's sake. More of our money is going to be wasted on bizarre schemes that benefit few of the students here. It's a university, not a mental health clinic.

    Go somewhere else if you need to feel 'wellness'. That is not CU's responsibility.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, we should eliminate all health services, all residential services, including housing (fend for yourself in the NYC real estate market), all of student life, and athletics, because a university is solely meant for book learnin' education, and education only. We were once a commuter school, we can be a commuter school once again!

      • A

        That's not what I was arguing. Clearly a minimum of services makes sense. But if you feel like the administration somehow has to pander to your 'wellness', you have the wrong conception of the role of a university and frankly you probably need to leave school and find help.

  4. Anonymous

    Who are the leaders of the Student Wellness Project? Who are the people who are actually meeting with the administration?

  5. Anonymous

    To the students who have given of themselves
    To think about the wellness of others .
    When people begin to think outside of themselves
    Great things can happen.

  6. CC '12

    I've been at this place since '07, and I've taken a year and a half off to deal with mental illness shit, and I've seen conversations like this sputtering since my freshman year. It's really nice to see something coming together at last. And I think Bwog's coverage has had a significant amount to do with it. So thanks, guys.

  7. CC'13  

    first-if the university really wants to work with students, can there be a better, further-reaching way to publicize these kind of initiatives then bwog posts? i would have gone to this meeting if i had gotten an email about it-i think most people are slightly more plugged in to email then bwog, no offense.

    second-i have never had great luck in dealing with the bureaucracy at this university, and to a certain extent i find it unsurprising. that being said, my experiences this year have been downright demoralizing. i knew tina well, and in the aftermath of her death i was at a loss over how to begin to put myself together, how to even approach my day-to-day. so i did what i've always been told to do-i reached out. and you know what i found? i couldn't count on my professors (with the exception of the class i was in with tina) to know what "student death" i was referring to-unexcused absence. i couldn't count on cps to notify my professors, as they explicitly promised me they would-nor could i count on them to let me know when they were unable to come through on that promise. i couldn't count on my adviser, with whom i have been essentially unable to make an appointment with. as a student employee of the university, i could not count on my bosses-laughably billed as my "support system" to be there for me. my grief over tina has been compounded by an overwhelming feeling of loneliness in the face of the immense responsibilities school places on me, including, apparently, the responsibility to help my own damn self.

    i am normally a happy cheery person, i am lucky to have a support network of friends and family who have stepped in as this school has seemed content to fail me. i shudder to think, however, about people who are not as lucky as i have been, who struggle with things like depression, for whom reaching out at all might already be hard enough, let alone a continuing fight for recognition. i hope that students who don't think our school needs a change can open their eyes and see that our diversity is not just racial/religious/whathaveyou, but a diversity of needs that are not being met on a basic level.

    • Anonymous  

      I commented below--on accident. My points are all disorganized. But I digress.

      I'm truly sorry that you've been having to struggle with this. The things I'm pissed about are very trivial when compared to the issues you've had with the administration. If you're still having trouble, I'd advise you talk to to your RA--they can help you get in touch with people who can make these sorts of things happen for you.

      • Anonymous  

        at the risk of identifying myself-i am an RA. i appreciate the suggestion, and i hate to tell you this, but this school really does just treat everyone like shit.

        that all being said-i do hope people keep coming to their RAs! we really do care and will do everything we can to help. the system doesn't always work so poorly.

  8. Anonymous  

    Bullshit. The administration (real life fucking dementors) takes every opportunity it can to suck the soul out of the undergraduate community. Bacchanal, Postcrypt, 40s on 40 & expelling the frats--they hate the fact that we have fun at college.

    When I was a freshman it used to confuse me when seniors would explain that they would never donate a cent back to the university. Now I understand. I'm a fucking adult and I deserve to be treated like one.

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