Committee fails to act

An AMS mental health committee established on April 7 was tasked by assembly to “evaluate how the AMS provides support to students on our campus and canvas other universities.” Though the committee met six times over the summer, it has failed to enact any change. Despite a mandate to communicate with other universities, the committee has failed to do so. With no results, the committee’s utility is questionable.

Committee chair TK Pritchard addressed AMS Assembly in September, stating that the group “discussed the mental health situation on campus and how we can ensure that student voices will be heard.” This vague summary gives no explanation of what’s been done.

Pritchard told the Journal in an interview last week that the committee has no budget, and he’s unsure what it would do with funding. Without clear goals or measures in place to evaluate performance, the committee won’t succeed.

The committee’s intentions can’t be faulted -— tackling issues surrounding mental health on campus is important. Coming up short is unjustifiable.

Students aren’t happy with the state of mental health resources at Queen’s. That’s the crux of the issue, yet the committee hasn’t made any recommendations for change. Health, Counseling and Disability Services are still understaffed, making appointments difficult to schedule.

Pritchard cited other mental health groups on campus, such as the University-run mental health working group, as reasons why the committee has had trouble setting itself apart. Overlap between different campus groups doesn’t mean they can’t work towards the same goal.

There’s a presumed connection between the culture on campus and the string of deaths that effected Queen’s last year, but it’s a link that hasn’t been established.

Silence on the issue lends itself to speculation, and it needs to be confirmed or dispelled.

The AMS committee has the unique benefit of being comprised solely of students. It has the chance to be a channel for the student voice — something that hasn’t been done. Being a voice for students requires action.

It means studying services at other universities, suggesting change and getting feedback. Social media and town halls are just two ways this could be done. For the committee to be effective, it requires a group of people who are able to give the necessary time and resources to the issue.

The mental health committee needs to re-evaluate its purpose to be of use to the student body.

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