WCSA to focus efforts on mental health and dialogue

WCSA+2021-2022+staff

Brad Elliott, Westmont College

WCSA 2021-2022 staff

Kylen Christiansen, Staff Writer

This coming spring, in accordance with their mission to “represent the diverse views, beliefs, needs and desires of our students,” WCSA — the Westmont College Student Association — is prioritizing student belonging, public safety, visibility of communication and mental health. WCSA also plans to establish its legacy by holding elections, as they do every year.

WCSA values a welcoming campus — one where students feel like they belong. To create this environment, WCSA members have recently formed a mental health committee.

WCSA’s mental health committee is actively working on several initiatives, including easier communication with Westmont’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and encouraging the college to hire more diverse counselors. By partnering with CAPS, WCSA is working to represent a broader range of students’ needs and voices. 

Recently, WCSA has worked towards increasing communication and connection within the student body through their “Conversations that Matter” panels. WCSA vice president Hans Khoe says the “Conversations that Matter” events are intended to encourage students to “try to understand how different sides can be represented, and [to] get both sides’ opinions and different ideas.”

In the fall of 2021, the panels discussed a myriad of topics, ranging from the events that took place in Afghanistan, to the COVID-19 vaccine, to Climate Week.

WCSA’s first “Conversations that Matter” event of the spring semester will focus on the controversy surrounding the “White Jesus” stained glass window. The events which transpired over this stained glass occurred nearly two years ago, and this event aims to create an opportunity for institutionalized remembrance and campus-wide engagement regarding the topic, given that many students have since graduated. 

WCSA also focused on sustainability on Westmont’s campus, which they intend to continue this spring. A group of faculty members — including Drs. Amanda Sparkman, Heather Keaney and Marianne Robins — regularly meet with WCSA president Hannah Grierson and other students to discuss action steps towards increasing sustainability on the Westmont campus.

Last semester, WCSA was able to fund a paid internship for the garden, and they are working to get compost bins installed in the GLC kitchens this semester. In addition to these goals, the end of April will see a week of sustainability-focused events scheduled to coincide with Earth Day. Grierson hopes to gain funding for additional sustainability projects. 

More recent WCSA campus improvement projects include a new Armington water fountain and New York Times virtual subscriptions for all individuals on Westmont’s campus.

Grierson explained that WCSA “touches many different parts of campus” and is unique in that it has the “longitude” to take many different forms of action. This longitude creates a variety of opportunities for WCSA to make Westmont a place where students feel included and their values are represented. 

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