SGA discusses mental health, housing

by Stephany Christie / Beacon Staff • October 30, 2014

The Student Government Association discussed mental health and housing at Tuesday’s meeting.

In light of the recent death of freshman Jocelyn Straus, SGA president Emily Solomon proposed the idea of discussing students’ psychological well-being on campus.

“I’m not necessarily aiming for SGA to do something in direct response to [Straus’s death],” said the sophomore visual and media arts major. “I’m more looking at this issue as a whole to discuss what are things that our campus can do to foster a better environment and prevent students from feeling so overwhelmed.”

Gabriela Kula, class of 2017 senator, talked about the feedback she has received on mental health from her peers. She said that representatives from the class of 2017 sent out a survey to their class in mid-October, asking them what general issues they would like to be addressed. While she said that there wasn’t a high number of responses, the issue that her class thought needed to be worked on the most was mental health. 

The conversation segued into suggestions to improve Emerson’s on-campus housing arrangements. Vice president Kassandra King proposed a new way to look at freshman residence hall assignments, suggesting that the Little Building become an almost entirely freshman dorm, with spillover only going into Paramount and Piano Row, not Colonial.  King, a senior political communication major and Little Building resident assistant, said that she’s has this idea since becoming an RA last year.

“The way Colonial is set up is not conducive to freshman learning,” King said. “I’ve never thought that it was.”

King spoke about the social aspect of the Little Building and her experience living there as a freshman. She said she was depressed during her first year, but where she lived, although not her first choice, was ultimately beneficial.

“It was always good to know you were coming home to somebody,” King said.

Further suggestions from King included allowing upperclassmen to remain in suites in the Little Building, and only assigning freshmen single rooms under special circumstances, like those pertaining to gender or disabilities. She said that there are double rooms small enough to be converted to single rooms, and others large enough to be converted to triple rooms if demand called for it.

Class of 2016 senator, Victoria Loubert, proposed making Colonial solely for upperclassmen. Jasmine Reyes, the elections chair, agreed with the suggestion.

“Considering there were only 32 freshmen who were moved into Colonial during orientation week,” said the junior journalism major, “it kind of seems pointless to have them living there at all.”