April 15, 2022 | NEWS | By Leigh Walden | Photo by Rikki Held
At the start of Block 7, Colorado College announced it would be taking a 45-minute mental health pause in place of First Monday. This act was criticized by some students for being a quick fix non-solution to systemic issues. On the second Tuesday of Block 8, the CC Student Government Association will aim to take bolder action, encouraging all students to skip their classes for a collective rest.
This call for community action comes after months of work within and outside of CCSGA, calling for CC to give more resources and time to students for mental health reasons. This Monday, April 11, CCSGA was at the Worner open house with a table of resources and representatives regarding the campus pause.
Vicente Taijeron ’24, a member of CCSGA who was answering questions at the campus pause table, spoke on the importance of this moment.
“The question we’re asking is ‘what’s the most viable approach?’… the point of (this event) is to show admin this is something that is needed,” said Taijeron.
In a handout, CCSGA outlined its ongoing work towards a policy change for mental health days on campus since Spring of 2021. The handout also highlighted the popularity among students of proposed changes for mental health days. In that survey, 92% of the 379 students who responded supported campus-wide mental health days. This figure should be taken with a grain of salt, as the subject of the survey was sponsored by the same group that conducted the poll: CCSGA.
While the first campus pause was school sponsored, this one will be student lead, specifically by the graduating senior class of 2022. CCSGA Student Body President Deksyos Damtew ’22 said this was an opportunity for the campus to explore how to take a day of rest while still protesting and demonstrating for better mental health support within the Block Plan.
Another difference between this pause and the last will be the focus on future policy goals and community. While CC did elaborate that the first pause was not a full solution to calls for better mental health support, they didn’t outline the upcoming steps to accomplish that end goal. CCSGA, however, is being explicit about the impacts and goals of this second pause.
Among those goals are the ability for a student to take a day off in every block no matter their class department or professor. Larger conversations about how students are expected to learn on the Block Plan are happening within CCSGA as well.
Damtew stressed the intentional collective action of this moment: “The idea of this is to come together as a community… sometimes CC feels like an island, and you’re kind of on your own island.” For Damtew, part of this pause is showing students that we’re there for each other while acknowledging that not everyone gets the choice to take time off.
In order for these changes to actually take place, CCSGA is hoping to continue to work closely with staff, faculty, and administration. Faculty support will be especially critical as they propose their syllabi for next year and create course loads for students. CCSGA hopes that next year’s class schedules will include a day off.
According to Damtew, the college is looking forward to having its own mental health pause forum on the first Wednesday of Block 8, from 7:45-8:45 a.m. in Celeste Theater.
Before the second rendition of this pause, CCSGA is looking forward to providing more insight to the entire student body about their work, their intentions, and their hopes for the future. On the second Tuesday of the Block, however, expect their phones to go to voicemail.