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Student Senate talks COVID-19, mental health resources

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Student Senate. Photo by Tim Zelina.

As the fall semester wraps up and Ohio University students rush to meet final deadlines, Student Senate discussed mental health and well-being resources for Bobcats during its Wednesday night meeting. 

Student Senate has chosen to focus on mental health and well-being this year, especially given the effects of the pandemic on students’ lives.

Senate President Ian Carter talked about resources that are available for both students’ mental and physical health.

“Ohio University has a free, anonymous mental health resource, it is a 24/7 peer-to-peer mental health community,” Carter said. “If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, please reach out to someone.” 

Carter added that Student Senate is collaborating with Graduate Student Senate as well as other student organizations to create a “COVID Concerns Committee” where updates and information on campus-related COVID-19 concerns will be provided.

Senate Director of Public Relations Emily Ertle mentioned coronavirus testing resources students can take advantage of before they come in contact with family members this Thanksgiving. 

“All OHIO students and staff are welcome to get tested for COVID-19 to know your health status prior to going home for the holidays,” Ertle said.

Testing for students will be available from Nov. 18 until Nov. 24 and Nov. 30 through Dec. 11, Ertle said. Students can email [email protected] to schedule.

Monday was the deadline for residential students to sign their intent on whether or not they wished to return to campus in the spring. Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones reported that the university has not heard from 1,700 out of 6,300 students eligible for return. 

However, 3,200 students who did submit their intent form said they wish to return to campus for the spring semester, about twice the number of students currently on campus.

Senators questioned whether or not activities for students will be done differently if the university does bring twice as many students back to campus in the spring. 

Hall-Jones said the Division of Student Affairs put forth a proposal to the President’s Council on Monday that would allow for some in-person activities on campus with guidelines. 

Events would be hosted in major event spaces where individuals are seated, socially distanced and wearing masks. The proposal remains tentative based on the state of Ohio’s COVID-19 coronavirus cases in the spring and any actions Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine might take in response to the situation.

In addition to working on engagement plans for the spring semester, Dean of Students Patricia McSteen said she and Hall-Jones have submitted grant funding proposals to provide additional support to mental health resources for students.

The Student Senate encouraged all Ohio U students to continue to wear masks, wash hands and adhere to social distancing guidelines so they may safely return home for the Thanksgiving holiday.

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