Opinions

Editorial Board: We Can’t Be Silent on Mental Health

Last week, we_x000D_
published a story in the Opinions section that has quickly become the most_x000D_
widely shared and discussed piece of content we’ve had the privilege to host_x000D_
this school year. “Pushed to the Edge: From Student to Exile” by Yi Li PO ’14, who discussed her experience with Pomona_x000D_
College’s response to an incident of self-harm, has generated a flurry of_x000D_
conversation around campus and online—and rightly so. Although many of those_x000D_
conversations were in progress and are ongoing, we would like to thank and_x000D_
commend Yi for her willingness and bravery in sharing her private narrative, which has clearly_x000D_
resonated with many students.

Administrators,_x000D_
too, seem to be taking notice of the reinvigorated prominence of mental health discussions._x000D_
In a campus-wide email April 23, Pomona Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum_x000D_
invited students to two forums on the topic April 28-29 in the Women’s_x000D_
Union. Feldblum’s message referenced Yi’s story, and offered_x000D_
students a chance to pose “any questions … about the College’s approach,_x000D_
processes, and policies.” We appreciate this move toward greater transparency,_x000D_
but we do have some suggestions to ensure the efficacy of the forums. 

As these_x000D_
opportunities for direct dialogue approach, we hope the college recognizes the_x000D_
need to sincerely weigh students’ emotional responses, opinions, and proposals._x000D_
The language of the announcement email gives us reason to worry that these_x000D_
forums might turn out to be a rehashing of what actions Pomona has taken so far to address mental health issues. While it’s true that progress has been made, a token meeting that re-emphasizes past actions without moving toward potential new approaches would not be constructive. We say this, however, only as a caution because we expect that this case will not come to pass. We trust that the administration has more in mind than a show-and-tell session.

At the same time, we would like to remind all of our_x000D_
fellow students that their participation is essential to making any impact._x000D_
Yes, finals are looming and summer preparations are approaching full throttle,_x000D_
but when students are given a chance to communicate in a public space on such a_x000D_
pressing issue, it is vital that we don’t drop the ball. The conversations that have taken place this week demonstrate beyond any doubt that Pomona_x000D_
students—and students at the other 5Cs, as well as parents and alumni—care about the college’s mental health policies. Let’s put that into_x000D_
action on Monday and Tuesday. Students must speak up at this time, and we are_x000D_
hopeful that the Women’s Union will be packed for both conversations.

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As these_x000D_
discussions continue—for two forums cannot resolve these issues—we always welcome_x000D_
contributions to our Opinions section from any community members who feel that_x000D_
their voices are not being heard. (Please contact opinions@tsl.pomona.edu for more information.) However, we are only one forum for student voices, and we hope that the student body continues to make use of all the available opportunities on campus. As we’ve seen here, the waves made by individual stories can_x000D_
resonate throughout the entire community, and when they do, our community becomes better for it. We are grateful to those who make the powerful decision to speak up.

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