LSA Student Government convened Wednesday night to discuss future plans to improve student well-being. LSA SG’s 38 representatives were joined by four guest speakers including Martino Harmon, vice president for student life.
The meeting centered around the new undergraduate housing project on North Campus, the implementation of programs for “non-traditional students” — students who do not immediately attend college after obtaining a high school diploma — and prioritizing student mental health.
Kambiz Khalili, associate vice president for Student Life and one of the guest speakers, oversees University Housing and spoke about what the expansion would look like for all students, including “non-traditional” students. Khalili highlighted the programs that are set in place to encourage student socialization.
“Our goal in Housing is to provide not just the best for the students but to also provide programs that would make them feel like they are at home in the University and to get the Michigan experience,” Khalili said.
Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones said assisting “non-traditional” students on campus is becoming increasingly important. Jones emphasized that these students are already getting attention from the University, and the University hopes to further aid these students during their transition by creating programs to acclimate them to student life.
“Students that are older than the traditional age students, students who might be married or have children and student veterans are all non-traditional students,” Jones said. “We support all of those groups of students in a variety of ways.”
Dr. Rob Ernst, associate vice president of student life for health and wellness and another guest speaker, described the importance of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and said the University has made changes to make services more accessible to students. He also stressed the importance of student well-being and said mental health can impact academic performance.
“It’s the mental health issues that students will most commonly say have the most negative impact on their academics,” Ernst said. “Stress, sleep problems, anxiety and depression. Those are the top four, so those are the things that we tailor our services to try and address.”
LSA SG representatives used the points made by the guest speakers to formulate new proposals to better serve the students. LSA sophomore Annelise Rice said the goal of LSA SG is to represent the students with a collection of different voices in order to provide the best experience possible.
“I think that the student government does great things for the student body,” Rice said. “There’s many different communities that this small amount of elected officials takes place in representing.”
The student government moved to approve several new amendments, one of which introduced a new liaison position between the student life committee — which focuses on LSA students’ non-academic experience — and University Housing.
LSA SG President Tyler Watt said student government should be focused on achieving the “greater good” for students above all else. He reflected on the importance of advocacy for “non-traditional” students.
“The common denominator is the same,” Watt said. “We want to help students. We want to raise marginalized voices. As long as someone is willing to do that — as long as someone is willing to put the time in — those are the requirements for the student government.”
Daily News Contributor Kelsey Ruff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.