April 15, 2022 | OPINION | By Maizie Newman
In another example of a day off from school with many complexities, I present the anticipated Colorado College campus pause.
On Apr. 4, 2022, the Colorado College Student Government Association sent out an email with the subject “Campus Pause 2 – Return of the Campus Pause.” The email details that a group of 50 seniors came together and decided that on May 3, the second Tuesday of Block 8 and my 21st birthday, the CC community would support one another by not showing up to class. This anticipated pause serves as a response to the emotional toll that the removal of spring break last year took on the CC student body and the seemingly moot 45-minute campus pause that occurred the first Monday of Block 7.
The email indicated that this pause would differ from the previous one in that it would “comewith actual policies that support mental health within the classroom” through CCSGA forums. While the email does not specify the structure of the forums or the policies the school intends to address, it mentions a “culture of over-productivity, overcommitment, and a lack of value placed on rest” and that several administrative faculty will attend.
To gain some clarity about the email, I spoke with Deksyos Damtew ’22, CC’s student body president and the main person behind this idea.
“People keep talking to me, like I’m talking about one day as the solution to the problem. But instead, I’m just trying to address one aspect of it, which is the over-busyness that people feel,” Damtew said of the responses.
“It’s a little dissatisfying for me to come up with a day where I don’t tell you exactly what each individual policy is and to ask you to help me brainstorm that because it doesn’t give that great of a direction,” he said. “I can’t know exactly where we need to go, but I do know that where we are, and what we’re kind of stuck with leaves us with a lot of questions and working towards answering them is important.”
Among the questions that Damtew posed about policy changes are: “What if there was a policy that said, ‘each class is required to provide at least one mental health day, throughout the block for any student that might need it? Does there need to be a committee…formed on (mental health)?”
Damtew also addressed the forums, which the email said would occur this week. “It’s not going to be feasible to do [the forum] in week three anymore. So it’s gonna be Block 8, week one. And then we’re just deciding on which morning.” Damtew’s reasoning behind postponing the forum and needing to do it before class is that scheduling a time when all of the administrative faculty he intended to invite has proved to be “tricky.”
“I would hope that we can start to move away from what the conversation is right now, where we view these things as self-care,” Damtew says of the intended impact. “While self-care is an important thing, I would hope that we can use this as an opportunity to start thinking about ‘well, okay, if we actually believe that we’re a community, what are the things that you know, are collectively facing us right now?’”
While I agree with Damtew and the ideas surrounding this day of pause and forums, some essential aspects of the topic remain unmentioned. Some issues that I hope students and faculty address extensively are whether the school views mental health solely from a lens of liability and safety rather than wellbeing (something that I have personally experienced and heard about), how to improve the quality of counseling office sessions, ways the school can promote therapeutic activity besides Cognitive Behavioral sessions, and how the school can better address interpersonal conflicts.
To all students, faculty, and staff reading this article, the time for change in the way that Colorado College deals with mental health is long overdue. Engage in meaningful discussions, avoid assumptions, and look out for yourself and those around you. I hope that this “gift” proves worthwhile for everyone and does not highlight the school’s shortcomings without any resolution.