Issue 4 | Fourth Quarter | 2016

Page 1

Mary Christie Quarterly A publication of the Mary Christie Foundation

Cultivating Wellness:

Educating college students for life

p. 12

The Mary Christie Foundation Presidents’ Colloquium on Student Health and Wellness p. 03 Survey: College Parents See Alcohol as Serious Problem p. 25

Issue 4 | Fourth Quarter | 2016

Mary Christie Quarterly The Mary Christie Quarterly is a publication of the Mary Christie Foundation, a thought leadership and philanthropic organization dedicated to the health and wellness of young adults.

Publisher & President Editor & Executive Director Director of Advancement Program Manager Communications Coordinator & Staff Writer


Robert Meenan Marjorie Malpiede Barbara Hickey Dana Humphrey Ashira Morris


John Sexton

Vice Chair

John P. Howe, III

Vice Chair

Michelle Dipp


Robert Meenan


Marjorie Malpiede


Amy Feldman


Frederick Chicos


Robert Caret


Chair: Susan Windham-Bannister

Terry Fulmer

Lawrence Bacow

Dr. Paula Johnson

Lynne Bannister

Dr. Derri Shtasel

Robert Caret Grace Fey

Ellen Zane

CONTE NTS 03 The Mary Christie Foundation Presidents’ Colloquium on Student Health and Wellness 05 Health & Color on Campus 09 Q&A: Dr. Paul Summergrad 12 Cultivating Wellness 17 Partners in Protection 21 Q&A: Jonathan Zimmerman 25 Survey: College Parents See Alcohol as Serious Problem 28 Young Voices: Storm Ervin 30 A Selfie for Us All 32 Science Summary

Cover art by Emma Roulette Spot illustrations by Daniel Chang Christensen

The Mary Christie Colloquium on Student By Marjoie Malpiede and Ashira Morris Photos by Mylan Torres On Friday, Nov. 4, 24 current and former college and university presidents met at New York University for a forum on the health and wellness of college students. The colloquium, entitled “New Thinking on Student Health and Wellness,” was led by John Sexton, MCF Chairman and President Emeritus of NYU. The goal of the forum was to allow presidents an opportunity to speak among their peers on complex and far-reaching topics, from the escalating rates of mental health issues on campus to the importance of educating the whole person. Molly Broad, President of the American Council on Education, and Terry Fulmer, President of the John A. Hartford Foundation, moderated the discussions. The colloquium followed the foundation’s Fellow Awards Dinner honoring recipients Phillip Satow, Co-founder of the Jed Foundation and Dr. Amelia Arria, Director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development.

John Sexton, President Emeritus of NYU and Chairman of the Mary Christie Foundation, introduces the morning discussion session topics.

President of the American Council on Education Molly Broad speaks with Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young at the Awards Dinner reception.

The attending presidents stand with the Mary Christie Foundation Council of Experts and the 2016 MCF Fellow Award winners. For a full list of presidents, see the corresponding page. 03

Foundation Presidents’ Health and Wellness Phillip Satow (top), co-founder of the Jed Foundation, and Amelia Arria (bottom), Director of the Center on Young Adult Health at the University of Maryland, received the 2016 MCF Fellow Awards. Satow speaks at the Awards Dinner, held at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Arria provides context on the MassINC Polling Group survey on parents’ perceptions on drinking on campus at the colloquium.

Attending Presidents Lawrence Bacow* Robert Berdahl* Molly Broad

Tufts University University of California-Berkeley American Council on Education

Robert Caret

University of Maryland

Kim Cline

Long Island University

Brady Deaton*

University of Missouri

John DeGioia Wayne A.I. Frederick

Georgetown University Howard University

Richard Freeland*

Northeastern University

William Fox

St. Lawrence University

Paula Johnson

Wellesley College

Biddy Martin

Amherst College

Joseph McShane Martin Meehan Lee Pelton Anne Prisco Clayton Rose Susan Scrimshaw

Fordham University University of Massachusetts Emerson College Felician University Bowdoin College Sage Colleges

Joel Seligman

University of Rochester

John Sexton*

New York University

Barbara Snyder

Case Western Reserve University

Clayton Spencer

Bates College

James Wagner* Michael K. Young

Emory University Texas A&M University


Wayne A.I. Frederick, President of Howard University, speaking at the afternoon session. Presidents (L-R) William Fox of St. Lawrence University, Paula Johnson of Wellesley College, Biddy Martin of Amherst College, and Joseph McShane of Fordham University listen. 04

Health & Color on Campus The Steve Fund honors its namesake by promoting the mental health and emotional wellbeing of students of color. By Ashira Morris IN 2014, the Rose family how to directly talk about, even as two of the members of the

found themselves at the beginning of a life-long process of healing after the devastating loss of their brother and son, Stephen Rose, to suicide.

“I didn’t want to feel that pain,” said his brother Evan Rose. “But you also can’t escape from it.” In the immediate aftermath of Steve’s death, Rose turned to writing to work through what he was feeling and posted the text to Tumblr. “We often have preconceived notions of what someone struggling with mental health issues looks like,” he wrote. “Steve did not fit any of them.” The post went viral, and was shared tens of thousands of times; Rose received an outpouring of text and emails in response. Many of the texts mentioned the mental health challenges their own siblings were facing. It was a consistent, deep undercurrent that no one was sure of


within their own family Evan wanted to bring these conversations about mental health in communities of color to the surface, but at the time, there was no singular organization he could turn to. He wanted to be able to help his friends help their own brothers and sisters facing situations similar to Steve’s. The extended Rose family took action. They assembled in their family dining room, sticking multi colored Post-Its on the wall, figuring out how to structure an organization dedicated to removing the stigma around mental health for young people of color. From this conversation, the Steve Fund emerged. The Steve Fund is the only nonprofit focused solely on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of students of color. The entire family has been involved from the beginning, with Evan as president, and Stephanie Bell-Rose and Chris Rose, Steve and Evan’s parents,

board of directors. Jason Rose, Steve and Evan’s brother, is now the co-chair of the Youth Advisory Board. The family decided initially to focus on young people throughout their college and university years, including the transitions into school and out to life beyond. Most mental illnesses first appear during adolescence and young adulthood, age groups that are often overlooked by research. It’s compounded for students of color; non-white populations are also frequently neglected by medical research. The data that do exist is rarely stratified by race or gender. The Steve Fund takes on its mission by increasing the knowledge and conversation around the mental and emotional health issues of students of color. Immediately after it was founded in 2014, it became a hub for researchers, practitioners, and advocates who had been working on related issues independently.

The Rose family only had personal experience in the field of mental health, so one of their first steps was to gather a team of medical and research experts. Dr. Annelle Primm was the first person the family reached out to. Primm has been working on mental health at the intersection of young adults and people of color for most of her career; she led the Office of Minority and National Affairs at the American Psychiatric Association until 2015.

that way in academia.” The family reached out to a list of scholars, leaders, and researchers at Primm’s recommendation who were knowledgeable about students of color.

Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble, an associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University, was one of the initial researchers the family brought onto the team. She is now the Senior Scientific Advisor and frequently reaches out to professional organizations working with or

“My whole life has been geared toward understanding the mental health needs of those populations in the face of racism and xenophobia and working to undo the disparities,” said Primm, now the Senior Medical Advisor to the Steve Fund. “There are not many platforms that recognize and honor this work. In the same way that ‘minority’ populations are dismissed and marginalized, the people who study these populations are sometimes treated

Photo provided by the Steve Fund

Evan Rose speaks at the Steve Fund’s third annual Young, Gifted & @Risk conference in St. Louis. The event drew 250 people. 06

researching nonwhite populations.

have already happened in the under 18 population.

“Their eyes just light up when I tell them what the Steve Fund does,” she said, “because it’s filling a void that for a long time was both unfilled and seen as unimportant. In our field, those of us who are disparities researchers feel like the thumb on the hand trying to center our work.”

“If you care about the health of the next generation,” Rose said, “you have to care about the health of people of color.”

The mental health of people of color may have been marginalized in the past, but the Steve Fund’s work is looking toward the future. By 2044, the current “minority” population is pro-

From the beginning, the Steve Fund has been intentional about creating a self-perpetuating cycle of work that begins with providing scholarships to young researchers studying the mental and emotional health of students of color. Research by outstanding scholars is presented at the Young, Gifted & @Risk conference, which the Fund hosts annually. It then

“If you care about the health of the next generation, you have to care about the health of people of color.” - Evan Rose, President of the Steve Fund

jected to increase above 50 percent, making the word useful only in reference to a previous time, before non-white populations were the majority. In the next five years, that shift will 07

becomes more visible through the Steve Fund’s online Knowledge Center and informs the Fund’s programs and recommendations.

A recent partnership with the JED Foundation produced a survey on black and Latino students’ perceptions of their freshman year on campus relative to their white peers. The JED Foundation, which is dedicated to suicide prevention, is also a family foundation created after the loss of a son to suicide. The analysis found the students of color felt both more overwhelmed in their first year of college and less comfortable seeking help than their white peers. Only 23 percent of black students reported feeling emotionally prepared for college, but 75 percent tended to keep feelings about these challenges to themselves. Black students are also far less likely to have been diagnosed with mental illness before arriving on campus—an indication that they are less likely to have had mental health support. Armed with this information and new research to be released this spring, the two organizations are jointly creating a model for colleges to follow that will better support the mental health of their students of color.

Beginning with a base-level acknowledgement that students of color face a different set of challenges is key, says Breland-Noble, who worked on the guidelines and presented them at this year’s Young, Gifted & @Risk conference in St. Louis, Mo.

partnership with Crisis Text Line trains young people of color to be crisis counselors for the free textbased counseling service, which provides around the clock support.

“If a student of color is not at a HBCU [Historically Black Colleges and Universities], you are going to have some unique challenges,” she said. “This is parallel to why the Fund is important because prior to the Steve Fund there was not that basic acknowledgement.”

“The Fund is like the root, the bark, the stem,” Breland-Noble said, “but all of us are the branches. It galvanized an entire group of people that had been siloed.”

The Fund now serves as a public-facing clearinghouse for research and as a hub for general information and advocacy, giving people who weren’t previously engaged a way to understand there was a void to begin with -- and that the Steve Fund is providing a model of how to fill the void. In the two years of the Fund’s existence, it has grown its programming to include a Youth Advisory Board, webinars for parents and mental health practitioners, and programs for colleges and non-profits. Their

The new organization has contributed to broad positive trends, including an increased public dialogue about mental health and recognition of its intersection with factors like ethnicity, class, and gender. Its role as awareness builder and convener for students, administrators, researchers, and advocates is more valuable than ever given the escalation of racially charged incidents on college campuses in the wake of the recent presidential election. This year’s Young, Gifted & @ Risk symposium at Washington University occurred just days

after the election. “Many of the people who attended were reeling from the results,” Primm said. “But I’m glad we chose that timing. It offered a beacon of hope that there was already an organized effort underway offering knowledge, resources, and programming that could help buffer some of the negativity arising in the current environment.” Over 250 people packed the room for Evan’s opening comments. “When we started The Steve Fund, I couldn’t have predicted 250 people in a room dedicated to bringing this kind of programming to schools,” he said. “It blew me away.” To learn more about the Steve Fund, visit To access the Crisis Text Line service, text STEVE to 741741.


Q&A: Dr. Paul Summergrad The psychiatrist brings expertise and perspective to Tufts University’s new mental health task force Interviewed By Marjorie Malpiede

The president of Tufts University, Anthony Monaco, recently announced the creation of a university-wide task force dedicated to mental health. He named Dr. Paul Summergrad his cochair for reasons that seem obvious: he is currently Chair of Psychiatry at the Tufts School of Medicine, Psychiatrist-in-chief at the Tufts Medical Center, and is a past president of the American Psychiatric Association. In talking with Dr. Summergrad in his office in Boston, it is clear he brings more to the task than an unparalleled CV. He is passionate about supporting the mental health of young people at a point in their lives when it is most vulnerable. His extensive knowledge of the young adult brain brings a critical perspective for practitioners and policymakers struggling to support individuals on campus. In the early 2000s, Summergrad led a study of mental health patterns and services at Harvard, which gives him a unique view on how student mental health as a field has changed – and how it has stayed the same. 09

These are important dynamics for administrators and students as they think through capacity and policy regarding mental health on campus, as well as the role of universities in a student’s overall wellbeing. The task force will start with a comprehensive review and assessments of the state of students’ mental health and will then assess the services, resources, and practices related to mental health at Tufts across all departments and schools. The task force will conclude with the release of a report in the fall of 2017. At the time of this interview, the effort was just underway. Here’s what the co-chair had to say: Mary Christie Quarterly: What is the scope of the new task force you are leading? PS: Number one is, we want to find out about student, faculty, and staff experiences. Secondly, we want to make sure that students can talk to us directly about their own experiences, whether good or bad. The project involves survey

work and expert analysis, and will reach all aspects of the university – students, staff, and faculty at undergraduate and graduate levels on all our schools and campuses. We hope to come up with an understanding of what we’re doing well, what’s not working, and what the gaps are. Additionally, we want to know what students, faculty, and others need in this area. We will then come up with some concrete recommendations about meeting those needs. MCQ: What is the motivation behind such a comprehensive effort? First of all, this comes directly from the president. As his co-chair, I think that sends an incredibly important message about how central this is. I think every college and university president is concerned about the mental health of their students, but for different reasons. You look at some of the suicide contagion issues that some institutions have faced and you wonder: What more can we do?

Photo by John Gillooly

Dr. Paul Summergrad in his Tufts Medical Center office. Summergrad is serving as the co-chair of Tufts University’s mental health task force.

To my knowledge, we haven’t had that situation specifically at Tufts. We do have a large, diverse university community and a lot of strategic questions around how best to support students with illnesses, those that are at-risk and others who are at vulnerable stages in their development. The reality is mental illnesses – and the broad range of illnesses and substance abuse that goes with them – are the preeminent disorders of young people. In the aggregate, the biggest risk for people getting sick and being disabled at this age is mental illness and substance abuse, so it’s a logical

time to look at it. It’s also a time when other people are going through normal developmental challenges. Sorting out the difference is a big part of this work. Not every developmental challenge is a psychiatric illness, but there’s also illness and substance abuse that come on during this time in young peoples’ development and we need to be aware of that. How do we make sure that when that bleeds over or becomes something that needs addressing that we’re supporting them with robust services? How can students who are ill leave and come back in a way that is not

stigmatizing or marginalizing? MCQ: This begs a lot of philosophical questions. What are some of the big ones? It seems one of the most important questions is: What role do universities have in fostering the best, most optimal development of young people, especially as we have a major commitment to be a diverse community? There was a point where universities seemed to have an obligation toward the development of young people and young peoples’ character and wellbeing. Was that proscrip-


tive? Was that constraining? But in addition to this there are other types of roles, like providing services for people who are ill and preventing harm, whether it’s keg parties or having appropriate policies and actions around sexual assault. Clearly, we have a role toward education and educational development. Is there some other additional role universities should have? Used to have? Need to stay out of? And what are the boundaries between them all? One of the things that interests me is something I read in a book by JD Vance about his upbringing, which included service in the Marines. What he said was the Marines provided a kind of oversight of his development, a parental role that helped him become who he was. Is there a similar role for universities dealing with this similar age group? MCQ: Can you give an example? PS: We have good evidence that kids who grow up, even in the most challenging circumstances, who have a mentor from outside their family who takes an interest in them have more secure paths. They do

much better. What does that mean for colleges and universities? Most schools are secular and have very diverse cultures, but one of the common things we can offer students is mentorship.

different perspective, including the ways in which young people develop. We also want to create an environment that provides the needed health services when issues become clinically significant.

Not everyone wants to go back to his or her family and talk to them. Their families or others may be at odds with their sexuality or some other element in their lives. We know that young people are still developing when they come to college; they’re still not developed at 19, 20, 21, and 22. That’s an important consideration. They need to rely on as many people on campus as they can.

Some of it is better treatment and better systems.

Should we help our faculty see that as part of their role? If it isn’t faculty, is it someone else at the university?

Once you have effective care, medications, and treatments, people begin to come forward and use those treatments. The treatments we have now for OCD are not perfect, but they’re pretty good, and they’re much better than what we had 40 or 50 or 60 years ago.

MCQ: You did a similar mental health survey at Harvard that was published in 2000. How have these issues changed since then? PS: We’ve become more public about talking about mental health and mental health concerns than we used to be. This has had a positive effect. I think this fits with wanting to create a university environment that supports diversity, supports a

The reality is mental illnesses – and the broad range of illnesses and substance abuse that goes with them – are the preeminent disorders of young people.


When I was first training in psychiatry, people thought that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was almost non-existent. And then people did epidemiology studies and found that 1 to 3 percent of the population had OCD, but they weren’t coming forward because there was no effective care.

Similarly, for health on campus, I think more people are coming forward because we have better treatments. People are seeking help because they believe it will be effective. Are the students any different? I can’t say. One thing that hasn’t changed is university presidents’ interest in wellness, health, and whole-student development. When university presidents come together, this is something they consistently talk about. I am honored to serve with President Monaco and applaud him for his leadership.

Cultivating Wellness Educating college students for life. By John Sexton, JD, PhD

IN early November, the education today. In many

Mary Christie Foundation brought together 24 college presidents representing a cross-section of American higher education to New York University for a conversation on “New Thinking on Student Health and Wellness.”

The expectation was that these leaders would exchange information, and a fair amount of angst, about the health, wellness, and behavioral and psychological issues of their students. Instead, the conversation quickly turned to a much broader – and much more fundamental – topic, as the presidents used the forum to articulate what they viewed as the central role of wellness in the education of college students (especially “coming of age” traditional students) for joyful, fulfilling, and useful lives. Rising rates of stress-related illness, depression, isolation, and fear among millennials, often leading to manifestations like poor academic performance, eating and behavioral disorders, substance abuse, or other destructive behaviors are part of the landscape of higher

cases, institutional principles such as freedom of speech, campus civility, privacy, and safety have been implicated, igniting emotional conversations in schools across the country. And the divisive narrative of the national election only exacerbated the situation on campuses. Against this backdrop, it was heartening to witness the commitment to students and their wellbeing expressed by the presidents at the Mary Christie Foundation Colloquium. It was inspiring to hear how they were focused on preparation for a balanced and healthy life as a


core element of the education provided to every student. This group of leaders was second to none in advocating for aggressive efforts to address the pain and suffering often found on campuses; yet, they emphasized with equal enthusiasm the need for greater attention to educating the “whole student” for a good life and as a corollary to advancing wellness on their campuses. These college presidents not only got it, they owned it. In comment after comment, the presidents at the colloquium embraced both their responsibilities for and their influence over the psychological, emotional, and behavioral health of their students. They did not ask: “How do we best react to incidents involving student health and wellness?” Rather, the question of the day was: “How do we do more to inculcate in our students the habits of life and wellbeing that will help them build the lives that they deserve?” Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester asked early on: “How can we create a campus climate where people 13

feel more secure, more comfortable talking about issues, and more able to deal with the problems associated with growing up? Even in happy lives, there are grim moments. If we are to help our students create the former, we must teach them how to handle the latter.” He then went on to posit that such a campus climate would best thrive if colleges and universities embraced, as a core element of their mission, attention to wellness as a fundamental element of a joyful and successful life. This view struck a chord with the other presidents. Lee Pelton, president of Emerson College, noted that much of the public conversation around colleges and universities focuses narrowly on career preparation. And there was a time, he said, when thinking on campus reflected this narrow view. But,

he continued, we now know that a narrow education is just that: narrow. If a college or university wishes truly to educate its students, it must address the whole student. In the short term, the wellness of every student affects the ability of every student to learn and, in the long term, it affects the ability of every graduate to use what has been learned to construct a good and useful life. Some schools, particularly religious institutions, have an explicit mandate to develop the “mind, body, and soul” – the very essence of wellness. But this attention to the whole person proved more pervasive than the casual observer might think. In a very moving moment at the colloquium, the former chancellor of the University of Missouri, Brady Deaton, recited from memory the 4-H Pledge he had been taught as a boy: “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to great-

er loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”

and the skills to maintain those advantages throughout life. Every student must learn the

There was consensus in the room that the colleges and universities of the twenty-first century, whether religious or secular, must attend to developing such an ethos and the skills to live by it.

The question of the day was: “How do we do more to inculcate in our students the habits of life and wellbeing that will help them build the lives that they deserve?”

As the presidents embraced this point, several emphasized its particular importance at minority-serving schools and schools with truly diverse populations. Moreover, as greater numbers of international students appear on campus and as more and more institutions strive to make higher education still more broadly available, the pressure on the services that create community and wellness will increase. This, of course, will present challenges; but if met, these challenges will be revealed as opportunities, for students at colleges or universities who succeed will learn both the advantages that flow from living in a diverse community (better, a community of communities)

skills to turn the challenge of a complex world into an opportunity: Though the needs of a minority student may be different from those of an international student, or of a student who comes from a homogeneous background, or of a student wrestling with a psychological issue, every student shares the reality that his or her wellness is fundamental to his or her ability to thrive in school and, ultimately, in life. One strong theme that emerged from the discussion was the idea that young adults at critical periods of their development can be well served by communities that offer a shared purpose and a sense of belonging.

Robert Berdahl, who formerly led the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Cali-

fornia, Berkeley, the University of Oregon and the Association of American Universities, noted this has been a finding of studies of the young men and women serving in the military who work alongside one another in an environment of shared commitment to something beyond themselves. Referencing Sebastian Junger’s book “Tribe,” Berdahl pointed out that psychological problems most often occurred for veterans when returning to a highly individualized society where tribe support no longer existed. The value of connectedness and community as an important element for college men and women of a similar age bears consideration.


James Wagner, president emeritus of Emory University, suggested that colleges and universities seeking to build community should meet students where they are – for example, seizing opportunities found in activism. “Students engaged in protests are seeking to serve something bigger than themselves,” he said. “We should be pulling upon that noble sense rather than pushing back.” The presidents, drawn as they were from a cross-section of in-

Susan Scrimshaw, president of the Sage Colleges, offered the view that while “family” is a term more often heard on smaller school campuses than on larger ones, micro-communities can be created even at very large schools. Various strategies can be introduced so that these micro-communities could offer special advantages, so long as they were interconnected somehow to prevent them from becoming silos. Robert Caret, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, added that scale could be

“There is a connection between our core mission and the state of wellbeing. If you are not well, you cannot learn.” -- Lee Pelton, Emerson College President

stitutional types, spent time discussing how the size of a school or its relative resources affects the kinds of strategies used in advancing an agenda that incorporates aggressive attention to the wellness of students.


a major advantage in terms of return on investment when implementing university-wide wellness programs. Wellness takes on many forms and, as was discussed in New York, can involve everything

from mindfulness and stress reduction to community service and peer support. From my experience, these strategies, taken together and combined with strong leadership, can have a significant impact on preventing emotional and behavioral problems. Such strategies benefit students first but also allow schools to fulfill practical goals in terms of retention and admissions. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ 2012 College Students Speak survey, 64 percent of survey respondents said they were no longer attending college because of a mental health related reason. The American Psychological Association published a Strategic Primer on College Student Mental Health, which stated that “students who participate in counseling report improvements in their satisfaction with their quality of life — a more predictive measure of student retention than GPA.” Perhaps President Pelton said it best. “There is a connection between our core mission and the state of wellbeing,” he said. “If

you are not well, you cannot learn.” The presidents agreed that making our campuses places of improved wellness and wellbeing should not be misconstrued as coddling students or returning to loco parentis – quite the opposite. As President Biddy Martin of Amherst College said, “What is needed to address student wellness is a great deal of more expertise, knowledge and research.” Not to mention, significant buy-in from faculty.

students with frank talk about sensitive issues such as identity, racism, and sexual assault. We prioritized our work in student health and student affairs to the highest levels of university authority. At NYU, not having wellness programs is like not offering mathematics.

Colleges and universities have both enormous intellectual capital and limited opportunities to distribute it among institutions. Making wellness a common agenda for schools that view this as a priority could help change that. Science exits in this area, as do best practices. We should continue to seek opportunities to share our experiences to the extent they are instructive for others.

Regarding the value of community, we commissioned a study early on in my tenure, which indicated that the two student groups that felt the most satisfied – and the most inclined to remain at the university – were athletes and minority students who had strong connections to their student peers. We acted on this data by creating clusters within large dorms that created connectedness across all types of students, from poetry enthusiasts to poker players.

When I was president at NYU, we created a wellness exchange that was available to students 24/7. We produced a Broadway-style musical for all

Now, as chair of the Mary Christie Foundation, I believe strongly that colleges and universities have a unique opportunity to help prepare students


to be well and live joyful and fulfilling lives. In addition to gaining knowledge, students can learn balance, resiliency, and purpose. I was delighted to learn from the colloquium that so many of my colleagues share this

Now comes the harder work of reshaping institutional norms so that wellness is the expectation, not the exception. John Sexton is President Emeritus at New York University and Chairman of the Mary Christie Foundation.


Partners in Protection WISE of the Upper Valley is helping Dartmouth College support victims of sexual assault, dating, and interpersonal violence. By Marjorie Malpiede PEGGY O’Neil and Heath- through discreet relationships “I said to people when I came er Lindkvist hadn’t known with individuals. Given their here, here’s the compliance act, each other very long before they became key allies in an experimental initiative to fight sexual assault and harassment at Dartmouth College. The two women head up the Dartmouth/WISE partnership, which brings the expertise and confidentiality of an advocacy organization into the auspices of an institution that has gotten very serious about this issue. O’Neil is the Executive Director of WISE of the Upper Valley, a community-based non-profit that provides crisis and ongoing support for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. A community stalwart for 46 years, WISE is both an advocate for victim survivors and a resource in preventing sexual violence, including educational programming on healthy relationships, consent, and body autonomy. O’Neil said the organization had long-standing, informal ties to Dartmouth, mostly


capacity and expertise in this area, O’Neil wanted to better support students and staff with a more visible and physical presence on campus. As Dartmouth’s Title IX Coordinator and Clery Act Compliance Officer, Heather Lindkvist oversees the federal and state mandates concerning sex discrimination, gender-based harassment, and sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, dating and domestic violence. The medical cultural anthropologist came to Dartmouth in 2014 well-versed in the fine lines of these laws, but she hoped to do more than regulate these problems.

but here’s how I want to construct this work so it’s first and foremost about our obligation to our community: to make it safe, to make it equitable, and to make sure everyone feels supported,” she said. Having worked with a community crisis center at a previous institution, Lindkvist quickly saw the value of forming a partnership with WISE. She had the strong support of Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon, who made the aggressive addressment of gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault part of the school’s initiative, “Moving Dartmouth Forward.” According to the web site, Moving Dartmouth Forward is “an initiative aimed at eliminating high-risk behavior and increasing inclusivity while strengthening Dartmouth’s longstanding commitment to leadership in teaching and learning.” Some believe Moving Dart-

Peggy O’Neil, left, and Heather Lindkvist, right, lead Dartmouth College’s partnership with WISE of the Upper Valley. mouth Forward is also an attempt to move Dartmouth away from the perception that the Ivy League school, in idyllic Hanover, New Hampshire, is more a place of privilege than inclusion. The effort has produced some of the most innovative student affairs programming in the country on discrimination, high-risk binge drinking, and issues relating to Title IX. Han-

lon’s stated goal in this area is “to eradicate sexual assault on campus, and promote community awareness of sexual violence and gender-based harassment.” A year ago last spring, Dartmouth and WISE signed an agreement to extend WISE services directly to the Dartmouth campus. Dartmouth is now

funding a new, on-campus position for a WISE employee to work directly with students, faculty, and staff as a campus advocate. This employee will continue to partner on a range of issues including sexual assault prevention programming and education on campus. “Now we’re building capacity together and sharing the best


we have to offer with each other,” said Lindkvist.

to tell anyone anything unless they want us to.”

Part of what WISE can offer is confidentiality for people affected by sexual violence, harassment, or stalking. Under Title IX, college employees with information about a sexual as-

WISE’s presence on campus gives individuals in the Dartmouth community close proximity to assistance as well as confidentiality. For people involved in sexual violence or ha-

“We see smart and capable young people leaving campus because they’ve been victimized and feel they can’t stay. We don’t want that to happen.” - Peggy O’Neil, Executive Director, WISE of the Upper Valley sault are mandated to alert the Title IX Coordinator in a way that Lindkvist likens to notification of suicidal ideation. This means that anyone from a dining hall worker, faculty member, or counselor can be subpoenaed in an investigation. As an outside resource, the WISE employee cannot be.

rassment, this two-part advantage is critical. Victim/survivors of sexual assault are dealing with trauma as well as facing a number of decisions, from reporting someone they likely know, to seeking counseling, to navigating the university and legal systems surrounding that decision.

“We are solely there for the person who has been impacted by the violence, and we’re going to take our cue from them,” said O’Neil. “We’re not going

Delaney Anderson is the WISE Campus Advocate. “To be able to think through so many questions in a confidential space with someone who doesn’t


have a motive other than ‘I want to be here with you’ is really valuable,” she said. Anderson acknowledges that victims of sexual harassment and relationship violence, particularly in closed communities like colleges, are often hesitant to report an incident. “There are so many reasons survivors are hesitant to report, including fear of not being believed [or] fear of being blamed,” said Anderson. “College campuses can be complicating factors in those hindrances. You eat, sleep, socialize, and go to work all in the same location with people you know. That means that incidents of sexual assault will likely involve people you know.” Anderson believes this dynamic only makes sexual assault on college campuses that much harder to address. “There’s this sense that at college, things are complicated and that there are a lot of factors making this issue ‘grey’ as opposed to what it is: an act of sexual violence,” she said. In the past, colleges and uni-

versities have not been given high marks for their handling of campus sexual assault; they’ve been seen as more concerned with containing these incidences rather than supporting those involved. According to the Association of American Universities 2014 Campus Climate Survey, when asked what might happen when a student reports an incident of sexual assault or misconduct to a university official, half of the responders said that it was very or extremely unlikely the university would conduct a fair investigation. Lindkvist believes that the perception that colleges were passive or clandestine in their dealings with these issues is all the more reason to go straight at reporting barriers. “If there is a perception in our community that the institution and administrators have somehow failed reporting persons in the past, it behooves us to think about how we address that in a

way that gives our constituencies the resources they need in a way that feels most comfortable for them,” she said. Whether or not they report an incident, O’Neil and Lindkvist agree that helping people to come forward to get the support they need is the primary goal of the WISE/Dartmouth partnership and is the reason why it has been instrumental for both individuals and the institution. “We see smart and capable young people leaving campus because they’ve been victimized and feel they can’t stay. We don’t want that to happen,” said O’Neil. A confluence of factors including high profile cases resulting in protests and resignations, pressure from the Obama administration, and an emerging, vocal network of victim/survivors have produced a national cry for “enough is enough” when it comes to sexual assault on cam-

pus. For people like Lindkvist and O’Neil, this is an opportunity for real change. “Victims of sexual violence haven’t fared well in the justice system, criminal or civil,” said O’Neil. “This work needs to be done across systems and in communities. One of the opportunities the college and university systems have is they might be able to inform the criminal and civil systems.” Lindkvist sees the national spotlight on sexual assault and gender discrimination on campus as emblematic of something larger about the need for respect and inclusion. “The hope and opportunity is [to] make our environment safe and welcoming,” she said. “It’s not fun for kids to be harmed or live in these ridiculous gender roles that just don’t work anymore. When they come to us at this stage in their lives, we want to make sure they will have a good sense of who they are as human beings. There is a lot of competition here, which I think is legitimate, but it shouldn’t be about who they are as people and what their gender roles should be.” 20

Q&A: Jonathan Zimmerman The University of Pennsylvania professor talks about how psychological idioms impact academic discourse. Interviewed By Marjorie Malpiede

As a former student activist and current education historian at the University of Pennsylvania, Jonathan Zimmerman has something to say about higher education’s role in social change. His new book, “Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know,” raises questions about the effectiveness of a new form of student activism sprung from what he calls the “psychologizing of politics.” His concern that political correctness is inhibiting change-producing dialogue on campus may appear anti-progressive; but at a time when liberal activists on and off campuses are feeling besieged and defeated, Zimmerman’s words may serve to reactivate a new social change agenda for which he is so obviously committed. With this as context, we talked about a variety of related topics, including how colleges address and perhaps shape student mental health and the way teaching and campus culture affect the type of graduates we are producing.


Mary Christie Quarterly: How have you seen student activism change over the years, and what have been the value and drawbacks of those changes?

protests today are phrased in terms of psychological idioms. We’re against racist speech or a number of other offenses because of what it does to the individual psyche.

Jonathan Zimmerman: I think that students learn a lot by engaging in political activity both on campus and off. As always in history, the questions are about how and why? In this regard, some things have changed and some haven’t.

The reason I think it’s problematic is that I don’t think it plays very well in political dialogue. In the political sphere, to protect the sensitivities of one individual is often and unfortunately taken as excluding another. We certainly saw this play out vividly in the presidential election.

In the ‘60s, students were deeply concerned about racism, both on campus and off campus. I think that concern has been steady through the years and has even gained momentum, which I regard as positive, but I think there are some differences too, which I see as problematic. The first one is in the area of what I call the psychologizing of politics. Many, though not all, of the student

I think that psychological idioms are conversation stoppers rather than conversation enhancers, specifically because they are so subjective. If you said to me that you were traumatized by something that I said, how could I respond to that? I can’t say if you were t ra u m a t i z e d or not. I don’t know what you’re feeling. Should I ques-

tion that feeling, perhaps I’m re-traumatizing you, so perhaps the proper response by me is to validate you. These are all idioms of psychology and I just don’t think they promote discourse very well. These idioms aren’t new. We can see them and hear them from earlier eras, but I think they’ve become much more prominent in recent years – in some ways, for genuine and good reasons. There is so much more awareness about mental health in our culture, and I regard that as entirely positive. But I do think we have to grapple with some of the problematic outcomes, even if they are unintended. MCQ: What would you do differently? JZ: One thing I would like to see is a separation of the psychological and the academic. I think the psychological idioms are inhibiting the kind of discussion we need. If I’m teaching in a class and I make a comment about slavery and someone is so traumatized by this that he or she wants to drop the course, I think that person needs mental health services. But I don’t think that person’s subjective experience should have anything to do with the academic decisions we make and the moral discussion about the purpose of school or even the presence of racism. All of these things are real subjects of discussion, but when we mix the academic and psychological,

Photo courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania

Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of the history of education at the University of Pennsylvania, recently published “Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know,” which explores the rise of psychological language in the campus political dialogue. when we make mental health a measure of academic propriety, we can’t really have the discussion we need. MCQ: Do you think students consider themselves more like consumers these days? If so, what are the implications of that?

JZ: Yes, especially in the goods and services that universities provide. Some of these services, let’s be clear, I think are entirely legitimate, like mental health. But come on, have you seen some of the new dorms? The new gyms? The new dining


halls? They’ve become a metaphor for this problem.

at the heart of your mission or you can’t be an educator.

I don’t think it’s new but I do think that as tuition has risen and as universities have stepped up their competition with each other for tuition dollars, I think that it’s become enhanced.

Now, moral improvement can take a million different forms and also, let me emphasize, people can disagree. I’m not saying my vision of moral improvement is yours or should be yours. What I’m saying is education is empirically a moral act. Aristotle said that education is both political and moral because every educational act or statement involves an implied vision of what life is worth living.

There are some of us who are old fashioned enough to believe that what college should do more than anything else is to force you to grapple with the question of what a good life is. My fear about some of these goods and services is that, prima facie, we’re answering that question for the students. What’s a good life? A life with lots of nice stuff? That’s one answer. And frankly, I wouldn’t begrudge someone who gave that answer. It’s not mine, but it’s an answer. My problem isn’t with the specific answer, it’s with the institutions answering the question for the students. MCQ: Do you think colleges have an obligation to create better people? JZ: Absolutely. I would question anyone who is involved in this enterprise who doesn’t think the same way. Why are you here? To help them get a better job? Is that your goal? It strikes me that some kind of moral improvement has to be


I don’t think it behooves us to pretend otherwise. But to go back to your question, I think that we’re at this moment where there are moral questions that in some ways have been diminished. Students today are taking a very instrumental view toward education. It is something they do to get from A to B. I understand that, and I don’t begrudge them that because they’re coming of age in a different economy than the one I grew up in. Because of this moment and these economic anxieties, I think that there is somewhat of a moral crisis in higher education. I know those are pretty big words, but I do believe it. If we’re all charging after individual riches, how do we create any kind of collective ethos surrounding the search

for truth? How do we get kids to think about larger questions of meaning and purpose when the purpose in life is to get a lot of stuff? I don’t think that’s a sustainable vision. MCQ: How do you think colleges should address mental health? What should colleges be focusing on? JZ: Look at the numbers and rising incidents of stress and other things on campus. Is that because people are more willing to access the services and there is less stigma surrounding them? If so, that’s a great thing. Is it, on the other hand, a function of some of the decisions we’ve made as a community about what is valuable, or a function of the academic and social environment that we’ve created? If so, that’s on us. I think this is one of the key research questions, for all of us. I think that part of the problem of this mental health metaphor is that it also runs the risk of socializing students to feel injured. Sociologists talk about “feeling rules,” insofar as feeling is a subjective thing, it’s personal, and yet we know from research that the social rules we set up surrounding the feeling do affect peoples’ subjective states of mind. They do so in each differently because we’re all subjective beings, but the rules do have biases, as a sociologist would say.

These rules bias us toward feeling a certain way even though they don’t determine it. What I worry about with these metaphors on campuses is that we’re socializing people to feel trauma, to feel injured, to feel insulted, and I just don’t know if that does them any favors. I also worry, as somebody whose family has seen a good deal of depression, about emptying these terms of meaning by stretching them beyond where they should go. If everything is a trauma, then what is trauma? Some of these students say they were traumatized by a statement in a class, and sometimes I feel like saying to them, ‘I want you to go to a Syrian refugee center and I want you

to tell the people there with a straight and honest face that you were traumatized by a professor’s remark.’ We are reducing the meaning of these terms. When I hear someone describing something really bad as a “lynching,” I just want to scream. Whatever it was might have been terrible, but it wasn’t a lynching. If you think it was, you don’t know enough about lynching. Personally, I am willing to entertain the idea that part of the mental health problem on campus is in some way related to the fact that the students are not particularly engaged in their classes and their learning because some of the professors aren’t.

Look, this is no secret. At every level of higher education, the best indicator of your advancement both financially and in terms of your title is the percentage of your week that you devote to research. It’s also inversely related to the amount of time you spend on your teaching. I think this has had some very troubling consequences. It has diminished the important role of teaching. If what we want is to engage our students in a more informed and wide dialogue about the purpose of life, we won’t do that unless we enhance the importance and status of the teaching function.

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The MCFeed

The Mary Christie Foundation’s weekly roundup of news and research on the health and wellness of young adults



Survey: College Parents See Alcohol as Serious Problem Parents want more information than they are getting on programming and intervention policies.

By Marjorie Malpiede NINE out of ten parents of

college students view excessive drinking as either a “very serious” (47 percent) or “somewhat serious” (44 percent) problem on college campuses, according to a newly released national survey. Parents are nearly as concerned about drinking on campus as they are about their c h i l d r e n ’s GPAs, and more concerned than about other hot-button issues like race relations on campus. Parents are concerned in part because they overwhelmingly believe drinking leads to negative consequences, including 25

poor academic performance (92 percent), drunk driving (85 percent), sexual assault (79 percent), and alcohol use disorders (77 percent). There is widespread agreement that campus alcohol policies should include disciplinary action on the part of institutions, including sus-

pension or expulsion for more serious violations. “Drinking on campus is certainly not a new phenomenon, but this survey shows parents are not willing to tolerate it as a rite of passage” said Steve Koczela, President of the MassINC Polling Group, which conduct-

ed the survey on behalf of the Mary Christie Foundation and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. Data from the National Institute of Health shows 60 percent of college students drink in a given month, and two out of three of these engage in binge drinking. One in four report academic challenges related to drinking, and one in five meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder. In a given year, 97,000 students report alcohol-related sexual assault, and 1,825 students die in alcohol-related incidents. “It is encouraging to see that parents understand the risks associated with drinking and support colleges intervening before serious consequences arise,” said Nick Motu, President of the Institute for Recovery Advocacy at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. “College is an important developmental

time when interventions in this area make a big difference in students’ futures.” The survey also found that parents want more information, but they are having a hard time finding it. Among those who called campus drinking an important consideration in choosing a college, 47 percent said it was difficult to find the information they were looking for. Parents overwhelmingly wanted to be informed if their child is involved in a drinking-related incident while at school, and 54 percent think such notifications are part of the campus disciplinary policy at their student’s school. In fact, campus policies vary widely, and parental notification likely happens far less often than parents think and want. “I think some might view notifying parents for alcohol violations as something that is inconsistent with the general

principle that college students need to learn to be responsible and develop autonomy,” said Dr. Amelia Arria of the University of Maryland School of Public Health. “But this is different. Excessive drinking is a health concern and can interfere with academic success. Parental notification is a way to partner with parents to get students back on track and foster student responsibility.” While concern is high overall, it varies across subgroups. Parents of students of color are more likely to seek information on alcohol use and policies before admission. Nearly seven in ten parents of African American students said concerns about drinking on campus were very important in choosing a school; 63 percent of parents of Latino students said the same. Only 45 percent of white parents called this information very important.


The survey also found: • Parents are very concerned about sexual assault as a result of drinking; 38 percent think it is “very common” and another 41 percent think it is “somewhat common.” Concern is highest among mothers and the parents of female students, who are more likely to think sexual assault is common and to be worried about drinking putting their child at risk of assault. • Despite their concerns, most parents say they are at least somewhat satisfied with the alcohol policies on their student’s 27

campus. But large percentages are also unsure whether specific items are included in those policies, further illustrating the information gap on the issue. • Parents overwhelmingly agree with statements about the seriousness of drinking on campus, including concerns about health consequences (95 percent), legal consequences (94 percent), and academic consequences (93 percent). Only 17 agree that underage drinking teaches students how to drink responsibly when they are of age.

About the poll These results are based on a national survey of 1,013 parents of college students living at school. The survey was conducted online between September 30 and October 11, 2016. Results were weighted to estimated demographics of the US population of parents of college students. Demographic estimates were generated using data from the Census Bureau and other publicly available sources. The poll was sponsored by the Mary Christie Foundation and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

Young Voices: Through Our Resistance, We Must Celebrate Our Existence By Storm Ervin DURING times of unrest, it

is important that marginalized people seek love and affirmation from each other. Love is a form of resistance against the systemic evil that we call racism. For the past four centuries, it has plagued the lives of black people. It seems this evil is reemerging to the once blatant figure it was in the lives of our ancestors. Although racism has been alive and well since the arrival of the first Pilgrim in this land, we can never let it be stronger than our love for each other. When we lose sight of the reasons why we love who we are, we give way for racism to grow larger and destroy the love we desire. One reason we fight racism is to replace it with a system built on love, but tunnel vision focused on oppression and not on our community blinds us from our strengths. While we endure and fight racism, we must remember to care for ourselves and for our community through unapologetic and genuine love.

As a black millennial liberator, I am more than aware of the painful reality of being black in America. Since our inception in this stolen land, racism has been a principle ideology for white elites. All men were created equal, unless you were black: then, you were property, far from equal. The social foundation is constructed with white supremacy and black inferiority as an American standard and black people have resisted in nearly every way possible. This hate is no stranger to college campuses. As a college student from Saint Louis, Mo., I spent countless hours protesting in Ferguson and organized demonstrations that challenged blatant structural problems on college universities with #ConcernedStudent1950. Our struggle proved that money, power, greed, and racism, which are all interconnected, are prioritized over black life. Organizers at Mizzou would not have fared well in our movement or our personal

Photo courtesy of the author

lives without the support of those who joined in our fight against oppression. Community love and support bolstered us during our struggle.


For black millennial activists, resisting centuries-old systems of oppressions makes you and breaks you. On one hand, you are fulfilled by fighting for what’s right for your people. On the other hand, every time a video of a black life executed at the hands of law enforcement is circulated on social media, every time students of color are targets of hate crime on their campus, or every time a killer cop is not charged with murder, the agony of experiencing the oppression that you fight forces you to question your very existence. The recent election of a white supremacist-endorsed presidential candidate and the release of Walter Scott’s killer without any murder charge added to the worries and fears of being black in America. We want to fight back against this hate. But fighting racism impacts our mental, emotional, and physical health. The frightful experience of living among racist institutions while fighting against them claimed the life of a renowned Ohio activist earlier this year. This tragedy haunts many black activists. I cannot pretend the thought has never haunted me. It has, and I know I am not alone. I do not recall this to encourage us to take the similar action, but to emphasize that racism hurts and that those of us fighting it are not isolated in our pain. Our pain may not manifest through the same 29

While we endure and fight racism, we must remember to care for ourselves and our community through unapologetic and genuine love. channels, but our collective suffering stems from white supremacy and anti-black racism. It hurts, and in order to survive we must depend on our community in the struggle. We know how powerful racism is, but oppressed people must find refuge in communal love so that we are not defeated by this evil. To anyone who feels marginalized, I urge you to love yourselves more than systems of oppression hate you. As black people, we must love on each other more than racism seeks to destroy us. Continue to host healing spaces so that we can build together. Continue to embrace our creativity and find joy in creating catchy songs from Shirley Caeser sermons. People of color, celebrate our diverse cultures more than racism seeks to vilify it. Peers and allies of the LGBTQIA community, reaffirm that you are great more than those who fear your strength to go against the grain. Efforts to make mental health care more accessible are imperative and have to continue. In the meantime, we must remind ourselves that our lives matter even though systems of oppression want to convince us otherwise.

In times of structural and unconcealed hate, it is important that marginalized persons lean on each other. Racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, you name it, will find every way to defeat us, but if we unite through the power of love, we will never be defeated. Yes, self-care is essential, but community care is essential as well. Our communities must open our hearts and minds to accept all marginalized identities so we can make love stronger than hate. This, alone, is a form of resistance. To come together, celebrate what makes us unique, or simply affirm each of us creates an atmosphere that can lift our spirits. The gains of activist work may not be realized in our lifetime, but no matter what, we must love each other more than oppression hates us. As the great Assata Shakur said, “we must love each other and support each other.” Storm Ervin is an original organizer of #ConcernedStudent1950 and has a B.A in Sociology and a B.A in Black Studies from the University of Missouri. She is now pursing a Master of Public Policy at Rutgers University and plans to continue to the fight for liberation.

A Selfie for Us All Paula Johnson inaugurated as President of Wellesley College. By Marjorie Malpiede

FOR those of us who at-

tended the September inauguration of Dr. Paula Johnson as President of Wellesley College, it was clear early on that something extraordinary was happening. It wasn’t the big name line up or the beautifully orchestrated program. It was the unrestrained enthusiasm of the Wellesley community as they embraced their new president for who she is as much as what she stands for. As Wellesley’s first African American President, Johnson’s ascendancy to the head of one of the most prestigious colleges in America is no doubt a milestone worth celebrating. But as I learned more about Wellesley College, Johnson’s presidency seems inevitable for an institution founded on democratic principles; this was the culmination of a long-held vision, and it showed. As Johnson entered the inaugural tent to cheers of “PJ, PJ,” I noticed a few students in front of me embracing each other with tears in their eyes. These young African American wom-

Paula Johnson poses for a selfie with Wellesley students and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Johnson was inaugurated on September 30. en shared something I would never equally appreciate, but it touched me profoundly and personally in a way that would be underscored by what Johnson said in her inaugural address. She spoke of the power of intersections – the positive force that results from the joining

of different dimensions. “Our future, the world’s future, will hinge on our ability to put aside differences for the common good – to join forces across political parties, across cultures, across belief systems, and across every boundary, virtual and physical, that you can imagine.”


Before coming to Wellesley, Johnson was the founding director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the Grace A. Young Family Professor of Medicine in the Field of Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School, and a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. With three degrees from Harvard, Johnson talked of the importance of evidence in a world where fact-based knowledge is under fire. But the physician/scientist turned college president spoke equally of the immense value of a liberal arts education. “If


the sciences tell us how, the humanities and arts remind us why,” she said. She said how delighted she was to discover that Alice Freeman Palmer, Wellesley’s second president (1882-1887), had written about happiness and physical health as topping the list of the “lifelong benefits conferred by a college education.” Johnson said she was inspired to learn how “very deep these commitments to health and well-being run” at Wellesley — a commitment she plans to pursue as a priority during her presidency. “In recent years,” she said, “many have questioned the notion that the colleges should pri-

oritize being welcoming places – the idea being that this is at odds with rigorous learning. I reject that wholeheartedly. We can, and I believe we must, have a rigorous learning community that is also a true home in the best sense of that word. Regardless of our race, ethnicity, age, religion, physical capabilities; regardless of what we believe, where we come from, or who we love – all of us, all of you, deserve to be seen and appreciated for exactly who you are.” Her message of belonging touched all of us there that day and can be taken as wise words for colleges and universities hoping to strengthen their communities.

Science Summary A recap of research worth noting. By Dana Humphrey


Healthy and Fulfilling Lives PostGraduation

Do students graduate from college equipped to find jobs, succeed financially and lead healthy and fulfilling lives?

Gallup and Purdue University developed the Gallup-Purdue Index in 2014 in part to answer that question. The Index measures alumni perceptions of their college experience, and how that relates to post-graduation wellbeing, feelings of preparedness for life outside of college, and career success, among other measures. The study showed that preparedness for life is linked to having six positive experiences during college: (1) at least one professor who made them excited about learning, (2) professors who cared about them as a person (3) a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams, (4) a long-term project (5) a job or internship where students applied what they were learning, and (6) extensive involvement in extra-curricular activities. The study found that the “big six” experiences are also associated with time it takes to complete a degree, as well as later in life outcomes like employee engagement and wellbeing. Furthermore, the percentage of alumni who report being prepared well for life after graduation increases with every additional “big six” experience. Eighty two percent of graduates reporting all six also said they were prepared for life after college, and only 5% of those who did not report any of the six experiences said they were prepared. However, only 3% of college alumni say they experienced all six experiences, only 22% report having a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals, and 20% reported being very active in extracurricular activities.


A recent retrospective study examThe Effect of Bullying on Mental ined the association between multiple Health forms of childhood victimization and mental health in college students. The study found that students who were victims of bullying were more likely to have health problems later in life, including higher levels of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. Furthermore, being bullied was the strongest predictor of post-traumatic stress of all types of victimization studied, including abuse by an adult and exposure to community violence. The study also found that young women were more likely to experience long-term mental and emotional health consequences than the young men surveyed.



Civic Engagement and Campus Climate Related to Mental Health

Some experts have argued that to improve college student mental health, students must participate in civic engagement, such as service-learning and volunteering. In “Perceptions of Campus Climates for Civic Learning as Predictors of College Students’ Mental Health,” Mitchell, J.J. et al examined the way that students’ civic engagement behaviors and their perceptions of a campus climate for civic learning is related to their mental health. The data showed that mental health was significantly and positively predicted by students’ perception of a campus climate that promoted civic learning, which is made up of several characteristics: supporting the development of students’ ethical and moral reasoning, promoting students’ commitment to contributing to a larger community, and developing the skills necessary to change society for the better. Additionally, researchers found that civic engagement through participation in community service was a weak positive predictor of mental health; individual experiences with volunteering contributed less to mental health than campus climate. This study provides evidence for administrators that the development of a campus culture embedded in civic engagement could have a large positive effect on mental health on campus.


Although 4.8 million student parents On-Campus Child Care Access need on-campus childcare, a recent stateand Affordability by-state analysis of institutions by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that this support has been steadily decreasing across the country. The report, which analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Education, found that while low-income parents have access to financial assistance for childcare through subsidy programs, there is drastic variability by state in the actual affordability. Some states enforce strict eligibility rules including work requirements, limitations on degree type, or time and academic requirements, which create barriers for student parents in receiving the financial support they need. The report also showed that states increasingly have waiting lists for these childcare subsidies. Difficulty finding and affording childcare contributes to the low rates of graduation among student parents; two thirds do not attain a degree within six years of enrollment.



A recent meta-analysis on the efficacy of mandated alcohol interventions – disciplinary actions including required alcohol education and counseling – found that it is an effective short-term strategy for risk reduction. “Alcohol interventions for mandated college students: A meta-analytic review” looked at 31 studies that surveyed students in mandated alcohol programs, measuring alcohol use as an outcome.

Efficacy of Mandatory Alcohol Interventions

Students who participated in a mandated intervention reduced their alcohol consumption, frequency of drinking days and heavy drinking, and alcohol-related problems in the short term. At an intermediate assessment, the researchers also found changes in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems. However, in the long term, only one measure of alcohol consumption, typical blood alcohol content, was found to have decreased significantly. While the effects of mandated alcohol interventions seem to diminish over time, the authors believe that the data provide empirical validation for the use of alcohol risk reduction interventions as tools for institutional enforcement.


A joint report by four campus-based groups seeks to understand food insecurity on college campuses and the impact it has on students and their academic achievement. The report highlighted the recent findings of a study of 3,765 students in 12 states at eight community colleges and 26 four-year colleges and universities. The data showed that 48% of students had reported food insecurity in the previous 30 days, including nearly a quarter with such low levels of food security that they qualify as hungry. Food insecurity was more prevalent among students of color and first-generation college students: 57% of black students and 56% of first generation students reported food insecurity compared with 40% of white students and 45% of students who had at least one parent who attended college. Among college students, food insecurity often accompanies housing insecurity, which can include difficulty paying rent, mortgage, and utility bills. In this study, 65% of food insecure students reported a degree of housing insecurity, and 15% reported some form of homelessness over the past year.

Food and Housing Insecurity on Campus

Thirty two percent of the food insecure students in this study reported that food or housing insecurity had impacted their academics, some unable to buy required textbooks, others missing or dropping classes.