Ohio Northern University boasts student body mental health as one of its priorities, yet during the inauguration of the new President on Wednesday April 12, closed down one of the most important campus resources – the Counseling Center. An email was sent just one day before the event in the morning. While the Center did send a follow-up email acknowledging that pre-scheduled morning appointments were still active, the Center offers “Walk-In Wednesdays” which allows students seeking counseling resources the ability to come in without an appointment and receive assistance. Although it was an unfortunate coincidence that the inauguration also was scheduled for a Wednesday, canceling of the walk-in appointments for the day were inappropriate.

When a practice is in place such as the “Walk-In Wednesdays”, allowing students to seek assistance at their leisure, it is jarring to cancel this feature the day before. Even athletes were given a two-week notice that they were expected to be at the inauguration so they would understand how it may interfere with their game, workout and practice scheduling. This shows even athletics being prioritized over mental health. It would be different if it was easy to schedule appointments at the Center, but due to the overwhelming need of counseling services on campus, most therapists are booked out several weeks in advance. It is already difficult for students who live on campus and do not have other resources to utilize the benefits that ONU has provided for them. For students experiencing immediate need of resources, walk-in appointments are the solution. By cancelling this just a day prior, it is unknown how many students may have been affected.

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Furthermore, the inauguration of a campus official is not significant enough of a reason to shelve the needs of the students especially in regards to their mental health. Superficial gestures such as gimmicky freebies, cancellation of class and even free food do not adequately address the mental health needs of students. Mental health does not pause for an inauguration. Students wondered if the health center or public safety offices were also closed during this time because they consider the importance of those offices to be relatively similar. While certain student groups such as the athletic department were required to be there per their department directors, President Baumann even said in her speech that “[the students] did not have to show up to be here.” If the person for whom the inauguration event was conducted did not deem it necessary for all students to be present, the counseling center did not have to cancel its “Walk-In Wednesdays.” The general campus behavior in regards to the inauguration was contradictory and misplaced to feign numbers of interested students who would rather have allocated that time towards obtaining the expensive education in the classroom they come to ONU for or to address their mental health.

It is not enough to simply promote mental health awareness through speakers and pamphlets; the university must demonstrate its commitment to mental health by prioritizing it in its practices. Closing the Counseling Center for the purpose of the Inauguration shows the severe disconnect between speaking on the importance of mental health and actually engaging in practices supportive of the cause. Sending an email the day before, when the date of the Inauguration was pre-set for months, communicates to students that their mental health and the resources that ONU flaunts exist so ONU can feel they are a part of the mental health conversation without having to fully engage and prioritize the needs of its students.

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