A Western Students petition has gone viral after an attempt to bring awareness to mental health. Within 24 hours the petition, Support a UWO Fall Reading Week for 2017 racked in 5000 thousands signatures of support. The author of the petition and President of the Health Sciences Unit(HSU) student council, Riley Garno says the idea came to mind while talking with other student counselors about how to start a conversation on mental health.
“Because losing 4+ students to mental illness in one year is unfathomable. This is one small change that Western can make to take better care of their students, and help improve their overall mental wellness. It’s time for Western to stop caring so much about protecting their prestigious reputation and start caring more about protecting their students.” posts one of the 5000 supporters in the comment section.
Before becoming President of the HSU student council, Garno’s campaign was built on raising mental health awareness, which he continues to do. Garno says that in no way they think the introduction of a reading week will solve mental health but it’s a priority they have in helping that regard.
“We want a chance to recharge and we need that chance to recharge. I think just the anxiety, stress and depression rates on campus show that we need a chance to really calm down, but also we just need a chance to go home and see our families. Academic calendars rarely take in account that students are people too and I really hope that through this petition they will see that we are tired of being put on the back burner.” Says Garno.
Currently, at Western, 2 days off are given before the Hallowe’en weekend. For the petition they are only requesting to move those days after the thanksgiving weekend and for another 2 days off to have a complete week.
The petition although directed to President of Western, Amit Chakma, will be used as data in letters being sent to other faculties.