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ASG holds administrators’ panel

Miami administrators addressed mental health, communication with students and DEI during the Nov. 9 ASG meeting. (L-R: Jayne Brownell, Steve Large, Kimberly Moore)
Miami administrators addressed mental health, communication with students and DEI during the Nov. 9 ASG meeting. (L-R: Jayne Brownell, Steve Large, Kimberly Moore)

In lieu of a normal Senate meeting, Miami University’s Associated Student Government (ASG) held an administrators’ panel on Nov. 9.

The panel featured Dean of Students Kimberly Moore, Vice President for Student Life Jayne Brownell and Assistant Vice President for Student Life Steve Large. Members of ASG were invited to ask the panelists questions about their work or student wellness in general.

Off-Campus Senator Waverly Dooling asked how the Division of Student Life plans to support students who struggle with their mental health as Miami transitions toward normalcy.

Large, who is a clinical psychologist, said it is important to make a distinction between emotional health, or the ability to deal with one’s emotions in a healthy way, and mental health, which often involves diagnoses such as anxiety or depression.

“For mental health, we have to think about bolstering resources, whether it be student counseling services or helping make sure that all faculty and staff have a baseline level of training about how to respond to distress, that type of thing,” Large said. “For emotional health, I think about self-efficacy and resiliency and self-soothing, and more educational prevention type of work.”

Moore said her philosophy for working with students centers around three words: care, support and advocacy.

“We make sure that students who are experiencing distress, we contextualize and we individualize that care. We individualize that support,” Moore said. “And, of course, when it's necessary, we advocate for those students.”

On-Campus Senator Ryan Parker raised a concern about a lack of awareness among students of the work the Division of Student Life does, especially since few students read emails sent out by the administration.

Moore said one reason this problem persists is that students don’t communicate with the administration about what information isn’t being adequately conveyed.

“We send information out through multiple channels … but if students don’t know something, they’ve got to ask,” Moore said. “So much of the system is based on some assumption that if students don't know, they at least know who to ask.”

Brownell echoed Moore’s sentiments that getting through to students has been a challenge throughout her entire career in higher education.

“[Miami] is my seventh school, and no school I’ve ever worked at has said, ‘We have communications with students down,’” Brownell said.

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Academic Senator Eli Davies asked what diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) related initiatives the Division of Student Life is currently working on.

Moore highlighted DEI audits – a process to ensure all departments on campus are working and communicating through an inclusive lens, updating online databases to allow students to use their names of use rather than their legal names, and implementing new, restorative forms of conflict resolution for Title IX violations.

Brownell said the Division of Student Life has worked on implementing equitable hiring practices and holding divisional diversity forums multiple times each semester.

“We’re continuing to educate our staff and talk about what they’re seeing in their offices and what we need to address as a division,” Brownell said.

ASG’s next meeting will be on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 6:15 p.m. in the Joslin Senate Chamber.