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Senate discusses health and well-being

| Thursday, November 14, 2019

In its weekly meeting Wednesday, the Notre Dame student senate met with Natalie Munguia, a sophomore and director of Health and Well-Being, to discuss the health and well-being of students on campus. In particular, senators were asked to pitch ideas to improve mental health on campus.

“The reasoning behind this is just so we can get some additional feedback about what the needs for helping will be on campus are, how we’re meeting them, different areas, both general and specific that students in particular can offer support, especially as you know, finals [and] midterms coming up,” junior Patrick McGuire, the student body vice president, said. “Days are getting shorter and it can be a tougher time of the year for a lot of people so just kind of wanted to renew an emphasis on helping will be.”

Senators opened up discussion with many different suggestions for dealing with the seasonal depression and the heightened stress levels that accompany exams.

“Especially here to senate, think in your dorm. I know every dorm does have a health and well-being commissioner,” Munguia said. “But even then, you can say there could be more programming in this area or anything like that, or anything the University as a whole, ‘Oh they could do better jobs.’”

One suggestion from a senator was a program where more dogs are brought onto campus.

“You should do some more of the programs where they bring dogs to campus” Jack Rotolo, a sophomore and the senator from Alumni Hall, said. “Who doesn’t like dogs?”

Other ideas included hosting healthy food catering events.

“Maybe like having a Friendsgiving, but having smoothies instead,” Noble Patidar, a junior from Keough and the proxy for James Bathon, the sophomore senator from Keough. “Or smoothie cookoff.”

There were also ideas tied to bringing the counselors from the University Counseling Center to dorms from Sam Cannova, the junior class council president. Additionally, there was also discussion about better publicizing the services available to students.

“A lot of people just don’t know what’s going on,” Rotolo said, “And I know over in St. Liam’s they have a lot of resources, but I feel like a role that we could take especially since we are students, one of the more like communicative aspects and just letting people know about like to go and take advantage of these, I just think that’s a big issue in terms of not having knowledge of what they can do.”

Another idea pitched by D.C. Morris, the junior senator from Fisher hall, related to having more religious ceremonies available to those who prefer to use religion or meditation as a means of comfort. This lead to discussion of the Catholic meditation app Hallow briefly before moving onto some other health concerns.

There were also discussions about integrating the health and wellness commissioners more into the process with discussion questions for dorms. Other topics mentioned included expanding the amount of time students could get free flu shots from St. Liams, integrating light therapy into residential life, a buddy system for talking about personal concerns, having services available in study spaces like the library, free hugs and other suggestions.

Students with suggestions about improving health and well-being policies can email suggestions to [email protected].

Senators briefly discussed charity efforts related to the cold weather.

“So there’s an RA in my dorm who’s offering students to borrow coats for those who don’t have them or it’s too cold,” Paolo Mazzara, a first-year from Zahm and acting as a proxy. “Perhaps the University could start an initiative where students could donate either, not necessarily coats, but gloves or scarves that could be given to others.”

The senate also reviewed and voted on two resolutions sponsored by Halena Hadi, a junior and Judicial Council President. The first focused on correcting language in the Hall Presidents Council’s bylaws. It was passed without any questions from senators or debate. The second resolution was about clarifying the use of proxies in the Financial Management Board to match the use of proxies in the senate. It was also passed.

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