Parent Newsletter July 2016
The buzz around campus is beginning…we are close to opening the 2016-17 academic year. New students are receiving their first-year housing assignments; fall sport coaches are awaiting the arrival of athletes; student life staff are working on training programs for resident assistants, peer mentors and student leaders; and faculty are finalizing syllabi for their courses. While the quiet of summer is coming to an end, the wondrous noise of the fall is almost upon us.
And this is the time when students’ attention is turning to the fall. Whether an incoming first-year student or the steely veteran of three years (and now a senior), the arrival of the fall semester brings with it an expectation for new opportunities, reconnecting with friends and developing new ones, and returning to a place of abundant beauty.
Last year, the Luther College Board of Regents approved the Luther College Priorities 2016-2018. One of the priorities focuses attention on helping students to enhance their wellbeing. Several initiatives are underway to support this priority, and I want to illuminate a few.
Last fall, our Counseling Center faced an unexpected and unprecedented level of demand for services, resulting in a significant wait list; wait lists were commonplace across college campuses last year. While the center’s staff identified ways to best address student needs, we had to step back and consider how to alleviate the wait list so that students in need could receive the care needed. The center comprises three full-time counselors and a part-time counselor. Four years ago, we expanded the availability of the part-time counselor from one day per week to two. After last fall, availability was expanded to three days per week; we will continue with the three days per week model this fall semester. We found that adding an additional day effectively eliminated our wait list.
Additionally last fall, we created a case manager position in the Student Life Office. As we move into this fall, we have expanded the available hours for the position and have hired a colleague who brings with her experience with wellness and health promotion, Title IX investigation, and overall student support. Our focus in this position is to support all first-year students, particularly first-generation and out of state students. Recognizing that navigating the college experience can be challenging, the case manager is an additional resource for students and she can especially helpful to those who are unclear of their options and resources.
Resident assistants (RAs) provide essential services toward student wellbeing, such as identifying peers in distress or who may need some type of support and referring students to the appropriate resources. To this end, all RAs will complete Mental Health First Aid during their fall training. Mental Health First Aid is a nationally recognized, eight-hour course. We are excited to offer this experience to our RAs and hope it will serve the broader needs of our student community. You can learn more about the program here: http://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/. We are also offering this course to athletic coaching staff members and other interested community members.
During the summer before their first semester at Luther, new students are expected to complete an online, harm-reduction course that focuses on alcohol and other drug use, sexual violence, and healthy relationships. We are using a new provider to deliver the material this year. This new course, Campus Clarity’s Think About It, better addresses the challenges students face when coming to college and delivers the information in a clear and engaging way. We are excited for this change and how this will be integrated into our educational programs as well as our Personal Fitness and Wellness course.
Finally, we are pleased to have Student Health 101 in our repertoire of wellness-related tools to aid our students. Student Health 101 is a national, web-based publication that focuses on issues relevant to student wellbeing. Each month, students will have access to a link for the current issue; a parent/faculty/staff issue—The Student Advocate—complements the monthly student issue (parents can access the full student issues). Student Health 101 focuses on helping to prepare students to live healthfully and develop skills for success in school and beyond. Here are samples the subjects the publication addresses:
Roommates, Transitions, Academics, Budgeting, Nutrition, Sleep, Fitness, Career,
Emotional Health, Physical Activity, Alcohol, Marijuana, Relationships, Stress
A summer edition is available, with links below to the abridged parent issue and the full student issue. I invite you to explore the content and strike up a conversation with your student.
Parent issue: http://readsh101.com/go2luther-pp.html
Student issue: http://readsh101.com/go2luther.html
Soon, this wonderful view I have from my office will change. The walkway, patio, Caf, fields, road, and more will be populated with students. Bring on August!