Wayne State University Student Senate met on Thursday —WSU Mental Health Day— and announced a project group focused on mental health.  

Upcoming actions of the project group include creating a module detailing mental health on and off campus, integrating mental health into the classroom and bridging the gap between students and resources, Senate President Riya Chhabra said. The module is to be completed by students for registration or orientation.

Chhabra said the idea was born out of mental health needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been working on a lot of mental health initiatives, but I think this pandemic highlighted the importance of mental health more than in years before,” Chhabra said. 

Specific start dates for the group were not provided.

“It is a top priority and something we would really like to get done as soon as possible,” Chhabra said.

Public health guidelines brought on by the pandemic mean the typical campus life has been disrupted.

WSU Libraries is trying to accommodate students who have not yet visited campus in person due to the pandemic and may be unfamiliar with the facilities, said Student Success Librarian Veronica Bielat. Last fall, library staff created a video on visiting the David Adamany Undergraduate Library. 

“(B)ecause it's a short video, we can send that out to students, too, if we get a question in,” Bielat said. “But one of the reasons we did that is just if a student has never been on campus, which we have a whole freshman class of people never been on campus, this sort of takes that fear away.”

In addition to introductory videos, the UGL posts frequently on Instagram to reach more students, Bielat said.

WSU Libraries also shares resources and hosts online events, but it has been difficult to get students involved, said Jill Wurm, associate director of marketing and communications for WSU Libraries.   

“It's a challenge for us without having the buildings, even where we would bring people in for events,” Wurm said. “It's almost like it's easier to do a big event because more people could hear about those. It's the smaller ones, like doing things like Family Feud in the atrium and stuff like that, that were just kind of fun things that we can't do as much anymore.”

Many students are not adequately informed about these programs, according to WSU Libraries staff. 

Senate Secretary and College of Nursing Representative Madison Wiljanen said content unrelated to her field of study is not communicated through professors. 

“I'm in the College of Nursing and I think something that the college does a good job of is letting us know how many librarians are there to help us with our research,” she said. “As far as the fun events, I haven't really been getting any notification of that through my college.”

To keep up with WSU Libraries events and resources, students can look on Instagram, Wiser Warrior, Academica and the WSU Libraries website, Bielat said. 

Senate also discussed the possibility of implementing study pods on campus. Originally seen at Grand Valley State University, the pods, similar to outdoor igloos set up by restaurants, were designed to be an outdoor study location for students looking for a change in environment, said Dean of Students David Strauss. While the idea is affordable and piqued interest, WSU decided against the pods due to many reasons, the main being lack of social distancing.

“They would not be regularly monitored,” Strauss said. “There would be no way to regularly monitor you, and so people could move around, et cetera, very low ceiling and a very closed in space, which leads to really unsafe air distribution. They would also require daily cleaning, if not frequent cleaning during the day. We don't feel safe putting any kind of a heating element in there.

Although out of the question during the pandemic, WSU was interested in pursuing this initiative when COVID-19 is contained, Strauss said. A timeline for WSU’s consideration of this addition has not been confirmed.

WSU Student Senate will host their next virtual meeting on March 4 at 6 p.m.


Alanna Williams is a correspondent for The South End. She can be reached at alannawilliams@wayne.edu.

Cover photo by Guneet Ghotra. Guneet can be reached at fz8387@wayne.edu.