1/29 – 2/4

Mental and Behavioral Health

The Daily Northwestern‘s weekly mental health and self-care podcast Speak Your Mind spoke with students about their experiences seeking help, including short-term therapy, long-term care and medication.

After DJ Carton, an Ohio State University freshman announced that he was “temporarily stepping away” from the basketball team to deal with a mental health issue, Indiana coach Archie Miller spoke with the media in advance of their game at Ohio State.  Sports Illustrated reported that Miller said, “There’s no more important issue in collegiate sports, in particular as we deal with our players every day, than the mental side of it, and mental health.” He said, “As a coach, I’ve had a few experiences with some guys that have had some trouble, and I lost a player, Matt Derenbecker, a few years back to a death, and you think about the times that he was with you and the times that he wasn’t, and you just wonder to yourself, could you have done more?”

A new University of Minnesota study found that LGBTQ college students are more likely to develop eating disorders than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. The study, which used data from the College Student Health Survey, found that cisgender women, transgender and gender-nonconforming students reported higher rates of eating disorder diagnoses than cisgender men. In comparison to their heterosexual peers, lesbian, gay and bisexual students also had a higher likelihood of having these disorders, and bisexual students and students who were “unsure” of their sexual identity had the highest rates.

The new “Ohio State: Wellness” app provides students with articles and information focused on student wellness, resources for recovery and proactive wellness, tracking tools for wellness goals, and directions for quickly accessing mental health support. The app was developed by students, faculty and staff following recommendations from the university’s Suicide and Mental Health Task Force that tools be developed that allow students to find accurate medical and wellness information in one place.

In an op-ed in the Stanford Daily, Leehi Yona, a Ph.D. student in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, wrote of the mental health resource crisis at Stanford. “It is unacceptable for Stanford to present itself as an institution that, as President Tessier-Lavigne says, is “continuing to expand support and resources” for mental health, without addressing the inaccessibility of therapy for its students,” wrote Yona. “It is deeply disheartening to see a much-touted two-day event on mental health and well-being that doesn’t, at the very least, offer space for students to discuss these concerns and seek solutions. Until Stanford places the well-being of students front and center, these words will ring empty.”

The University of North Carolina’s Peer-Based Support Network is a program designed to promote student mental and emotional wellness through weekly group discussion sessions led by facilitators trained by the UNC School of Social Work. PBSN is led by the Mental Health Committee in Student Government and Mental Health Ambassadors. Luke Nguyen, co-president of the group, said of the program, “It is both a benefit to the student body and part of an ongoing research project that will hopefully advance the field of clinical therapy by looking at the effects of intervention on student mental and emotional wellness.” Niya Patel, program developer and member of the research team, said the network is targeted toward a subgroup of students who were identified as needing support, but may not necessarily require long-term and off-campus therapy.

The Post and Courier reports that University of South Carolina is in the midst of a three-year, $300,000 grant program overseen by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to develop and enhance resources for students in need of mental health support. USC initiatives include a fast-response behavioral intervention team that can be called upon 24 hours a day, a pilot program tracking loneliness and offering training to cope with major life events, and peer-led intervention.

Diversity and Inclusion

faculty task force at the University of California is recommending that the system not drop standardized tests as a requirement for admission now, saying that applicants’ scores on the SAT and ACT still serve as better predictors of first-year performance than high school grades. The task force also encouraged the university system to expand admissions criteria and suggested creating an alternative assessment. The report comes amid a nationwide debate over the value and fairness of standardized tests in college admissions, as a record number of colleges and universities are making test scores optional for admissions. Critics cite research showing that standardized tests discriminate on the basis of race and income level.

The University of California at Berkeley has renamed a prominent part of its law school, removing the name of John Henry Boalt, a 19th-century California lawyer who espoused racist views.

The Chronicle explores whether ending legacy admissions at elite colleges could change negative perceptions of higher education and the admissions process, highlighting the push to do so at Johns Hopkins University.

Sexual Assault and Title IX

In a ruling last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declared that an institution can be held liable for “pre-assault” claims, which allege that its policies for enforcing Title IX are inadequate, create an environment of “heightened risk” of sexual misconduct and lead a complainant to be harassed or assaulted. While many recent federal court decisions on Title IX have focused on the rights of accused, Peter Lake, director of the Law Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University says that the Ninth Circuit opinion is a win for victims’ advocates.

College Affordability

The Chronicle created a resource of colleges that are the most generous to the most financially needy students. According to the Chronicle, among four-year private nonprofit colleges in 2017-18, Duke University appears to have made the greatest effort to cover the full costs of its financially neediest students.

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is committing $100 million over a decade to provide financial aid and other support to low-income students at the University of Texas at Austin. Undergraduate students who are eligible for the Pell Grant will receive free laptops, financial aid coaching and internship and career planning, among other services. Freshmen with the greatest need will also receive $20,000 to cover additional expenses, on top of in-state students having their tuition and fees fully paid.

Student Success

EdSights, an education technology company focused on improving student retention and wellness in higher ed, announced the availability of its student retention solution. EdSights is a machine learning-powered chatbot that gathers real-time insights into college students’ experiences to identify those that may be at-risk for dropping out. It presents colleges and universities with data-backed solutions to improve opportunity for intervention. The EdSights chatbot converses with students about their college experience and identifies helpful on-campus resources if a struggle is detected. The technology allows institutions to uncover insights on areas that are otherwise hard to measure, such as a student’s sense of belonging or their home life, which can contribute to dropping out. Throughout the semester, EdSights communicates with students about upcoming tests, or balancing their workload. Depending on the response, students can be directed to an advisor or a specific set of resources that can address their challenge.

Policy

Inside Higher Ed reports that in the 12 years since Congress last renewed the Higher Education Act, colleges have grown unaffordable, more graduates face stifling student debt and many do not graduate. Lawmakers who played a leading role in the last reauthorization say the law has grown obsolete and does not deal with today’s problems. In a series of recommendations, a panel of former lawmakers and education experts, chaired by the top Democrat and Republican on the House education committee, called for billions more in student aid. The group, assembled by the Bipartisan Policy Center, would pay for it by phasing out education tax credits. In addition to spending $90 billion more over 10 years to increase the maximum Pell Grant award and make more middle-income students eligible for the program, the task force proposed the creation of a $5 billion annual federal matching fund to encourage states to increase their own spending on higher education. The concept, in which states could get the federal grant only if they increased their own higher education spending, is similar to the federal-state partnership called for in the College Affordability Act, approved by the Democratic majority on the House education committee last year.

Gun Violence

The Wall Street Journal reported that two women died and a 2-year-old child was injured in a shooting at a Texas A&M University-Commerce residence hall Monday morning. Texas law allows licensed gun owners to carry a concealed handgun on a college campus. Campus housing residents can store handguns in their rooms using their own safe “intended and manufactured for handgun storage,” according to requirements and regulations at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Licensed holders are prohibited from carrying concealed weapons in certain university buildings and spaces, including the school’s counseling center, student health services and campus events like programs or camps with minors, among other places.

Physical Health

While confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S are limited, the New York Times reports that alarm over the virus is particularly intense on American college campuses, where students from around the world are packed in tightly and illnesses easily sweep through dormitories and classrooms. At the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, two undergraduates from Wuhan, China, were moved to a special dorm room and told to regularly take their temperatures. At Arizona State University, a student-led petition called for classes to be canceled after a confirmed case of coronavirus. Basketball games were postponed at Miami University in Ohio after two students who had recently returned from China displayed possible symptoms. Across the country administrators have quickly made plans to protect the spread of the virus on their campuses and discourage travel to China. Boston University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst postponed their study abroad programs in Shanghai. A University of Massachusetts Boston student returning from Wuhan became the first confirmed case of the illness in Massachusetts. The man, who is in his 20s did not require hospitalization and has been “isolated” at home while public health nurses continue to monitor his condition. However, The Daily Beast reported that UMass students are concerned about the transparency from the administration regarding the the student’s presence on campus and their potential contact with him.