MCSG Overseer: Mental health care at Mac

Abe Asher

This week’s meeting of MCSG began with a moment of silence for Matias Sosa-Wheelock, a sophomore who died unexpectedly on the evening of Feb. 18.

After the moment of silence, the Legislative Body (LB) segued into an unscheduled, 30-plus minute discussion of mental health and mental health resources – or the lack thereof – at Macalester.

“We don’t have enough resources, and the resources we do have are inept,” Aidan Teppema ’18 said. “There aren’t enough counselors on campus at all. Every spot is filled all the way through the semester.”

“It is true that we do not have the staff to meet the demand [for counseling],” Associate Dean of Students and MCSG Advisor Andrew Wells said. “Right now, they are definitely working at 110 percent of their capacity.”

There are seven counseling groups for the spring semester, including a grief and loss support group and a sexual assault support group. The availability of counselors for individual work, however, is severely limited.

“I know that there are a lot of students whose insurance doesn’t cover out of state,” Shelby Witherby ’18 said. “If Minnesota isn’t their home, Health and Wellness is their only option. Because of that, I think it’s really important to urge Macalester to have a higher budget for Health and Wellness, provide more services or do something of that nature.”

Towards the end of this conversation, Fatiya Kedir ’21 asked Wells why Macalester held classes on Monday – in the most immediate aftermath of the events the night before.

“I was not part of or privy to any conversations about whether or not classes would be cancelled, so I don’t know whether that suggestion was ever raised or not,” Wells said. “My personal concern about canceling classes on Monday is that it would have left fewer people around and about on campus for those who needed community… A lot of the students I talked to in the last 48 hours said it was helpful to have that routine and to take their minds off their pain.”

Wells said that the college did notify faculty members who teach students directly involved in Sunday night’s events, as well as their work study supervisors, to request leniency with attendance and deadlines this week.

“I think it’s really important that we continue to have this conversation the rest of the semester,” MCSG Vice President Ariana Hones ’18 said. “I think it’s really uncomfortable to talk about, but I think it’s really important that we do right by Matias and everyone who is suffering with [their] mental health. There are solutions, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work.”