Written by Carolyn Kuimelis
The Student Wellness Commissioner, an appointed Student Executive Council (SEC) position, was recently proposed by Student Wellness Committee founders junior Chloe Sørenson and senior Cole McFaul. The position, created to improve communication between SEC members and the different wellness initiatives on campus, will provide a leader for student wellness events.
Sørenson first noticed the absence of a Gunn SEC representative with whom students could talk about ideas for wellness events. “A lot of times people will come to me with these wellness ideas and there’s all these other things going on, and it can be kind of hard to figure out who they should talk to or where you should send them,” Sørenson said. “So I’m hoping that this position will act as a point person for all these different people.”
The Student Wellness Commissioner will lead the Student Wellness Committee
and serve as a liaison between administration and student wellness groups like Reach Out, Care, Know (ROCK) Club and the Alumni Dialogue Initiative. They will also bring issues to the SEC and keep the council informed on wellness events and updates.
According to Student Activities Director Lisa Hall, the growing interest in developing wellness programs prompted the need for such a position. “The students and I both realized that we didn’t know what all of the groups were working on, and that the groups did not know what the other groups were [on], which created duplications,” she said. “We wanted to make sure all the groups were communicating with each other.”
Hall hopes that the addition of a Student Wellness Commissioner will help SEC gain awareness of wellness programs on campus. “Right now, the students have some knowledge, but it is mainly through reports the SEC has received from administration, or occasionally from the school board representative. I don’t think they know all the activities the different groups are implementing and how the SEC can support those things,” she said.
The comissioner will serve to help students’ voices be heard. Hall says she would like to see more student voice in the decision-making process. “Right now there are a lot of adults talking about what they think would be good programs and some of those are, but I don’t know how much the students are contributing to that discussion,” she said. Hall says she hopes the Student Wellness Commissioner will help bridge the gap between students and adults and allow students to express their needs regarding their own wellness.
Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator Joanne Michels agrees that the position will augment student voice, and believes having a student wellness commissioner will encourage other students to get involved in the conversation about wellness. “Having a student be able to be a leader in wellness is going to be a really nice way to engage other student group leaders and student groups,” she said.
Student Wellness Committee member sophomore Vidhu Navjeevan says it will be important for the student wellness commissioner to listen to the opinions of the whole student body. “I think they’re also looking for people who are willing to try new things and are open to ideas, because a huge part of being on SEC and being on a wellness committee is that you really need to hear the opinions of everyone,” she said.
McFaul emphasizes the need to move forward the conversation about mental health, and believes having a student wellness commissioner will help erase the stigma surrounding it. “The main thing [they will] do is just bring that topic of mental health into the con- versation more, which I think is super important,” he said. “It’s not something you want to ignore and let sit on the back burner.”