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Helping Every Student be ‘Whole’

Kim Whole student
May 17, 2018

Ihave been thinking about something Dr. Ralph Nilson, the President of Vancouver Island University, recently said to me: The core purpose of postsecondary education is to help every student become a “whole person” — the kind of passionate, curious, caring young adult who will go on to make our world a better place.

I couldn’t agree more. Watching my own university students grow into their whole selves has been one of the greatest joys of my teaching experience.

Yet, if that is our mission, as university administrators and academics, are we doing all we can to support it? If that is what we value, are we focusing campus resources in the most beneficial, student-centered way? Becoming a whole person is in part a function of the intellectual enrichment at which universities excel. But it is not enough to celebrate the life of the mind when students’ minds are overburdened by stress.

Numerous indicators show we have a crisis on our hands. In 2017, the Canadian Statistics Agency reported that 15 to 24-year-olds today have higher rates of anxiety and depression than any other age group. In the United States, feelings of “overwhelming anxiety” among college students spiked in 2016 to 62 percent.

I’ve seen the way the alarm is being sounded, at my university and elsewhere. Students, faculty, and administrators alike have organized, advocated, and invested in critical services to promote student wellbeing and respond to crises when they occur. In conversations on the matter with a top university administrator, she told me that mental health on campus is the most serious problem we face. Yet for all we’re doing, the data shows we still have far to go.

Read more on Medium.