The Task Force on Emotional Health and Well-being, a committee of administrators and students established in fall 2019, has begun to develop a proposal for academic policy changes that will address concerns about student health.
While the details of the proposal have yet to be officially laid out, they are expected to address concerns about earlier deadlines, extensions and seminar breaks. Many of the concerns are rooted in findings from the Great Lakes Colleges Association Conference’s (GLCA) recent Presidential Summit on Mental Health, which members of the Task Force attended in December.
Once the proposal is finalized, the committee will present it to President Sean Decatur and the Office of Academic Advising. Thomas Hawks, dean of academic advising, expressed that his office intends to work closely with the Task Force by using contributions from both bodies to design an effective plan.
“We hope to run ideas past the Task Force so they can consider them,” Hawks said. “If any of the ideas seem like something that the Task Force wants to pursue, they will make recommendations to the faculty committee on academic standards, and if the committee on academic standards thinks that any of these recommendations are valuable they can present them.”
This development period will likely be lengthy due to the breadth of material the Task Force wishes to address. However, the Task Force expects to give a proposal to President Decatur by the end of the year.
“The idea is that we brainstorm, we do our research and then we present our recommendations at the end to the president,” said Kirollos Mikhaeel ’22, a student member of the Task Force. “There are so many aspects of the process that advice from students or faculty is needed so we can have as big of an overview about all the aspects of every problem.”
The process will not only be determined by the Task Force and the Office of Academic Advising as any changes to academic policy will need to be approved by the professors.
“Some of these things may just be recommendations to the faculty members about what we think would be a good idea. And if that’s the case and if the Task Force thinks that it’s a good idea, they’ll probably just find a way to make those recommendations available to faculty,” Hawks said. “Some things may actually be policy changes—and if they are policy changes, then [we] will present them to the faculty meeting and the faculty will discuss them and decide whether to adopt them or not.”
The progress on the proposal will continue for the foreseeable future and the Office of Academic Advising plans to meet with the Task Force on Friday, Feb. 21 to further discuss the matter.