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Ohio State professors pushed to list counseling resources on syllabuses

Ohio State University’s senate recently passed a resolution that urges professors to put a statement on their syllabuses that informs students where to get counseling on campus for issues such as anxiety and depression.

The statement was approved by a unanimous vote in mid-November — about two weeks before the car-and-knife rampage at the Columbus campus that left many wounded and the student-attacker dead.

“The more the campus community is aware of these services, the more likely they will be used when needed,” Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Wayne Carlson told The College Fix via email.

“We’ve been made painfully aware of the value of communications about mental health services and dealing with fear, grief, and anxiety these past few days,” he said. “It has underscored the importance of clear communication about the services and how to access them.”

The statement is as follows:

As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance or reduce a student’s ability to participate in daily activities. The Ohio State University offers services to assist you with addressing these and other concerns you may be experiencing. If you or someone you know are suffering from any of the aforementioned conditions, you can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus via …

The statement then proceeds to list the university’s various counseling resources, their contact information, and hours of operation.

Carlson said it is not mandatory for professors to use the statement — a sticking point among educators.

He said the Undergraduate Student Government first brought a resolution forward two years ago calling for professors to add the mental health statement to syllabuses, but that resolution sought to require it.

When student government leaders changed the wording from required to recommended, professors were willing to pass the resolution, he said.

The University Senate consists of 137 members of faculty, administration and students that authorize the legislative authority of university faculty over educational and academic policy, The Lantern campus newspaper reports.

“We will provide faculty with access to the language now, so that it can be available for syllabi in winter, should they choose to adopt the language, or should the college or department choose to require it,” Carlson told The Fix.

The administration advises all faculty to include statements on their syllabuses that address academic misconduct and disability services, so this mental health disclaimer is just another addition, according to the resolution.

Carlson, a proponent of the resolution now as well as before, said he is glad that campus resources will be better understood and used by those who need them, and he is hopeful that by OSU’s action, other schools will follows suit.

“I have had several schools contact me after a news report of the resolution. I hope our model language makes it easy for them to also adopt similar language,” he said.

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About the Author
Kelleigh Huber -- Grove City College