Quadcast: Experts discuss pandemic fallout on students, see new year as opportunity
This week on the Quadcast, two members of MCI’s Board of Directors, Andrew Shepardson and Zoe Ragouzeos, join Executive Director Marjorie Malpiede to share their takeaways on college student mental health and wellbeing from the last year. Andrew is Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Bentley University, and Zoe is Executive Director of Counseling and Wellness Services at New York University.
Together, these experts discuss their observations on how the pandemic has left students socially and emotionally stunted, with new situational anxiety or exacerbated clinical issues. Young people are struggling to engage not only socially with peers but in the physical classroom, which has become unfamiliar territory for many. The way forward, they say, demands campus-wide efforts—from students, faculty and staff—to provide support and prioritize wellness
Mental and Behavioral Health
Bloomberg’s Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University, and Inside Higher Ed’s Joshua Kim, the Director of Online Programs and Strategy at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, may be at odds when it comes to the greatest threats to higher education, but they agree the youth mental health crisis is among them. According to a national survey from TimelyMD, Inside Higher Ed says college students reported the same: mental health is their top stressor entering the new year. And when United Educators surveyed college leaders about the risks they’re facing this year, Higher Ed Dive reveals student mental health emerged as the fifth most pressing.
- Higher Ed Dive writes that the Division I Transformation Committee, on behalf of the NCAA, released a report proposing to strengthen mental health support services for student athletes, among other benefits.
- Elsewhere in college sports, Associated Press covers the decision of University of Iowa basketball player Patrick McCaffrey, a starter and son of the head coach, to take a leave of absence to tackle his anxiety.
- The Chronicle considers whether quiet quitting among young college faculty reflects “an ill omen for the future of higher education or a sign of emerging resilience among early-career professors.”
- Also in The Chronicle, Maria LaMonaca Wisdom, the director of faculty mentoring and coaching at Duke, suggests academics are struggling with work-life balance, a sense of loss from the pandemic and a desire to expand their impact.
- At Amarillo College, Inside Higher Ed finds the appointment of a corporate chaplain has helped make faculty and staff feel “heard and supported” in the face of mental health challenges.
- Inside Higher Ed explores whether students should receive grades for participation, given a range of factors, including educational and health disadvantages, that might disrupt engagement.
- Also in Inside Higher Ed, clinical psychologist Rachel Goldsmith Turow proposes that students can benefit from opportunities to learn practical mental health skills in their classes.
- U.S. News reviews a study linking procrastination in college students to poor health outcomes, including body aches, sleep issues, anxiety, and depression.
- Fast Company reports that Seattle public schools are suing several of the world’s largest social media platforms for their role in creating the youth mental health crisis.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
In Forbes, Janice Gassam Asare, who advises businesses on how to foster an anti-racist, anti-oppressive workplace, sounds the alarm on colleges and universities doubling back on promises they made regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. As the article indicates, it is a contentious moment in higher education as political disagreement worries students and threatens faculty jobs. At New College of Florida, The Chronicle says some community members are concerned that Governor Ron DeSantis’ plans to “reshape” their school will be harmful to those from diverse backgrounds; at the University of Houston, Inside Higher Ed says a dean of social work believes his support for police abolition led to his demotion; at Harvard, WBUR says the former director of Human Rights Watch believes his opposition to Israel got his fellowship rescinded; at Hamline University, The New York Times says a lecturer lost her job after showing a depiction of Muhammad, which is offensive to some Muslims, in an art history class.
- In an op-ed for The Michigan Daily, one student highlights the challenges of navigating food in college and urges students to move away from the fear and guilt associated with weight gain or “unhealthy” eating.
- The Daily Tar Heel breaks down a discussion of well-being days and plans to examine their efficacy from the Faculty Executive Committee’s first meeting of the year.
- According to The Crimson, a judge ruled against the family of Luke Tang, a Harvard student who died on campus from suicide, in its wrongful death suit accusing the university and two deans of negligence.
Higher education has an accessibility issue, write higher education consultant Jake Weissbourd and child psychologist Rick Weissbourd for The Washington Post. Selective colleges continue to become more exclusive than ever, when they could be expanding enrollment and opportunities to affordable degrees. WBUR reports Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka hopes to increase access by working to make community college education free for all. Yet community colleges are also struggling, particularly under the weight of diminishing faculty and staff, Inside Higher Ed points out. Others suggest there is still much work to do to support students already in community college, only a fraction of whom manage to earn a bachelor’s degree as planned, according to The Washington Post. For Inside Higher Ed, Maggie P. Fay, a senior research associate at the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, imagines that getting rid of remedial course requirements can help pave the way to graduation.
Sexual Assault & Title IX
Politico says a federal judge in West Virginia sided with state law in a lawsuit accusing it of violating the 14th Amendment and Title IX by banning transgender girls from sports teams aligned with their gender identity. As this case sparks concerns about potential state efforts to try to define what it means to be a “girl” or “woman,” Inside Higher Ed reveals that requests for trans and non-binary-specific housing are growing on college campuses across the country.
As President Biden awaits a Supreme Court hearing to decide the future of his student debt relief plan, The New York Times reports his legal team filed a brief with the justices last week. Challenging state suits against the program, the brief contends the president’s plan requires only executive approval. Inside Higher Ed suggests that stipulations in the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act are at the heart of arguments over whether or not Biden needs congressional authorization. In the meantime, Higher Ed Dive finds Biden hopes to lighten the load for some borrowers in other ways, namely by slashing monthly income-driven repayments in half.
Cal Matters considers how transportation concerns, including availability and affordability, keep college students from the classroom and their degrees. In California, recent programs that help students save on transportation through local agencies are already appearing to facilitate academic success.
Wide coverage of the homicide of four University of Idaho students this November continues after the police arrested a suspect, 28-year-old criminology student Bryan Kohberger, last week. In The New York Times, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, who has been reporting from Moscow, Idaho, describes how the tragedy has affected the atmosphere on campus and around the college town.
According to Higher Ed Dive, privacy concerns surrounding use of the popular social media app TikTok have inspired state officials to institute bans against the platform on government devices. In some cases, this decision trickles down to public universities, where officials have recommended that students remove the app from their devices or blocked access to TikTok on their networks.
The Tampa Bay Times covers controversy at the University of Florida, where some medical faculty suggest the state’s vaccine policies stem partly from untrustworthy data. Florida Surgeon General Joseph Lapado advised this fall that men between 18-39 not receive mRNA COVID-19 vaccines due to possible health risks, but other experts remain unconvinced by the study behind his recommendation.