By Noor Adatia and Caroline Hitesman
Boston University Student Government held a Terriers Connect suicide prevention training program Monday night, organized by the Mental Health Committee in order to educate senators on the topic.
Associate Director of Outreach and Prevention Services Jennifer Durham-Fowler led the 90-minute training, which went over facts and statistics about suicide, specific stressors at BU and how to interact with those managing suicidal thoughts.
For BU and other college students, the most prevalent stressors include grades, financial concerns, social issues and family problems, Durham-Fowler said. She said the most helpful ways to respond to individuals in crisis is by listening to them, paraphrasing their feelings and asking them questions.
“Giving reassurance is something that I think all of us have an instinct to do when someone’s suffering,” Durham-Fowler said. “It’s almost like we are hardwired to reassure people.”
Durham-Fowler also reviewed texting as a mode of communication that provides another way to reflect on feelings.
Senators agreed feelings are too easily lost in translation through texts, comparing to the more effective face-to-face communication.
Durham-Fowler said it’s harder to show non-verbal signs on text, and it is better to talk on the phone or in person if possible in serious situations.
Durham-Fowler said she thought the participants were engaged and hoped they found the session helpful.
“I think it was a great group and they were really engaged and asked wonderful questions,” Fowler said after the session. “I was very happy about it.”
After the mental health training, SG Executive Board President Jake Brewer proposed forming a standing committee for observing the Board of Trustees.
This committee would enable students to act as observers and information disseminators in Board of Trustees meetings. Students would report “going-ons” to Senate, SG and The Daily Free Press, Brewer said.
Due to time constraints, Senate tabled further discussion of this committee until the next meeting in order to talk more in-depth about the proposal.
Jamell Sirleaf, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and founder of the Commonwealth Consulting Group, sought $3,000 in funding for the group’s marketing budget and for an educational field trip to a law school.
“As a student-run legal consultation group at BU, we provide affordable consultation and representation to off-campus students,” Sirleaf said of CCG.
Senate decided to table discussion of funding for CCG until the next senate meeting also due to time constraints.
SG Vice President of Internal Affairs Jane Dimnwaobi said she thought making the training session required for senators was a wise move so senators can be resources for students.
Dimnwaobi, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, also said she thought that a committee for trustee observation would be very important for the student body.
“A lot of things BU students get inflammatory about are things beyond President [Robert] Brown himself and it really has to do with the Board of Trustees,” she said. “I think that having a student on there would make us feel more comfortable.
SG Senate Chair Daniel Collins said he enjoyed the mental health training and thought it was well-organized.
“I’ve never done any sort of training about mental health and suicide awareness, so it was really helpful,” the CAS junior said after the meeting. “I’m really proud of the senators for how well they were engaged. They provided really good responses.”
Collins also said he was glad the senators decided to table Brewer’s proposal and CCG’s request for funding for a later date to have a thorough discussion.
“I like the decision made to table Jake’s proposal,” Collins said. “I like that the senators were interested in it and interested enough to put it off for a proper consideration. I thought the feedback for Jamel’s proposal, the Commonwealth Consulting Group, was also good, interested and inspired.”
Several SG members said they found the Terriers Connect training useful and important.
Olivia McKellar, a School of Education senator, said she found the training helpful.
“I hope it becomes more of a presence in more groups,” the SED sophomore said. “I think it’s an important dialogue and conversation to have.”
Margo Blank, a Hillel senator, said she also found the training important, particularly for those who are involved on campus with many clubs.
“There are kids here doing many clubs,” the sophomore said. “There are people who really overextend themselves and if things go wrong, they feel like a failure.”