November 4, 2022 | NEWS | By Leigh Walden
The Board of Trustees meeting at Colorado College is usually not an event that gathers much student attention. Some students at CC are not even aware when the meeting happens. This year, however, students across campus eagerly anticipate the gathering; not because they’ve recently developed a new curiosity for bureaucratic practices, but because they want to use this meeting as a space to list their concerns about students’ mental health on campus.
For the past three blocks, a group calling for institutional change in the realm of mental health has been gaining traction with raising concerns about the conditions for mental health at CC. Their petition of demands, which currently has just under 500 signatures, has been making its rounds throughout the CC administration and has resulted in multiple communications listing the ways the school intends to react to the ongoing crisis.
To some students, however, these plans, while moving in the right direction, aren’t doing enough to address the urgency of the situation on campus. Nick Firestone ’24 wasn’t impressed with the plans that the CC administration shared about their work.
“I wasn’t 100% pleased with what the administration came out with,” Firestone said.
For him, the administration didn’t address the immediacy of the matter. He sees the school as needing resources now to help students and didn’t like how the administrative email felt like the school was “making a plan to make a plan.”
The administrative response feeling hollow is part of the impetus for the protest organizers this weekend. They’re partially reacting to the lack of comprehension from CC administration on the urgency regarding mental health, but they’re also making sure that their movement and ideas are not going to be forgotten about.
Kat Falacienski ’25, one of the leaders of the mental health protest group, said the protests this weekend are, “just to remind the trustees that we’re still here, we’re not going anywhere and the issues we brought up last block are still as relevant now as they were then.”
Julia Solano ’24 supports the group on campus but wants to see more from them. “I’m an FYP mentor and our teacher, Sam, brought the petition into class one day… It was the faculty petition and we talked about the strengths and weaknesses… It just feels like there is staff on campus who want to help do this work and the two groups aren’t meeting.”
The faculty petition Solano is referring to has also been making its rounds on campus. It describes different practices that faculty will adhere to in order to provide better learning conditions for students. Among them are flexible classes to accommodate mental health days and not requiring students to show a note from a doctor to receive an excused absence. So far, the faculty pledge hasn’t received a response from CC administration. It’s also unclear whether the student organizers and the faculty organizers have met.
The student organizers are showing up in multiple ways this weekend. They will attend the Board meetings on both Thursday and Friday, the Worner open sessions, and are staging a protest at the hockey game this weekend. In addition, the organizers, who want to recognize that the history of their work builds off the efforts of minority students from previous years, are asking students to wear black on Friday in solidarity with the movement and mental health at CC generally.
Falacienski is confident in what the group can accomplish. She said this weekend is “intended to show the trustees how popular the movement is on campus. That it’s not just a small but local minority on campus but it encompasses students of every background, of every class. That it has broad popular support.”
As for Firestone and Solano, they both plan on wearing black on Friday. “Something needs to change,” said Firestone.