I have had the honor of attending The Ohio State University for the last three years. I love this school; I have found a home, friends, and a passion for learning at this school. But when you love something, you have to call it out on its bullshit. In these last three years, four fellow Buckeyes have taken their own lives. It's okay to talk about the ugly parts of the things we love because we want to demand better from them. So Ohio State, I demand much, much better from you.
The outpouring of love from Buckeyes to the loss of life of one of our own is unwavering. We fight in their honor with outcries for better mental health resources on campus. But how many times do we have to ask? How many lives must be taken before the university hears our cries for help and takes them seriously?
Since the first death during my freshman year, students have taken to social media to share their frustrations with the school's mental health services and accessibility. In my own experience, I called to use one of ten free counseling sessions made available to students each semester. I saw a therapist at home and recognized the signs of me slipping. I was walked through a phone interview in which they collected my personal information, as well as my symptoms only to be told at the end of the conversation that no therapists were available to see me. I was then referred to an off-campus resource that wasn't guaranteed to work with my insurance and that I couldn't get to anyway because it required a car. I am lucky to have had a safety net of friends and family that caught me when my anxiety ultimately did catch up with me and I was unable to seek therapy. Some are not so lucky.
Following the next two deaths, Ohio State Undergraduate Student Government worked with President Drake to come up with a Mental Health Task Force. The force claimed plans to make mental health care a priority on campus, but last week we lost another Buckeye too soon. We see the school consistently investing in the football program, in "mental health programs" like bringing puppies to campus, and rallying media support for Urban during his suspension. But when it comes to getting to the root of the student body's issues with mental health, they fail us. Over the summer I also received an email that one of the campus resources, a women's sexual health, and advocacy clinic had been closed, citing understaffing-- like the mental health and counseling clinic.
Ohio State, President Drake, we don't want to play with damn puppies. We want counselors hired, we want accessible and affordable treatment through one of the most difficult times in our lives. We do not want another email letting us know about an incident on the roof of a parking garage followed by a list of campus resources that are not in fact, available. We deserve more than this. We deserve to be happy and healthy while attending the school we love, we deserve to not fear for our classmates. We deserve to walk through this campus without the guilt of not doing enough for friends to make up for the help that is not provided by the university.