‘Phins Take a Stand: Student Protesters Demand Change in Mental Health Support On Campus

Victoria Kellogg

Victoria Kellogg, Assistant Arts and Leisure Editor

On the morning of Monday, March 22, Le Moyne College students took to the quad to protest how the school responds to and handles mental health issues. Students exchanged their concerns regarding the wellness of students with administrators and are calling for change here on campus.

Students at Le Moyne are grieving the death of a fellow ‘Phin, Cory Gallinger, and feel as if mental health support is not as available on campus as it should be. Conversations amongst student protestors and individuals, such as President Linda LeMura, touched on how to best help the college community during these unprecedented times.

Both administrators and students shared tears, socially distant love, and the right to stand up for their beliefs in fighting against a mental health crisis that is devastating their campus.

The crowd of protestors made it very clear that they feel as though mental health at Le Moyne should be supported and acknowledged more than it is now. Student protestors informed administrators about their concerns regarding the effectiveness of the campus Wellness Center. Students also shared in remembrance of their fellow ‘Phins who were lost to suicide in the past year and a half, emphasizing how unsettled they remain over this matter and how disappointed they were in the response from administration.

The evening before the protest, James Corl, Freshman SGA Representative, created a petition titled “Le Moyne Administration: Address Mental Health NOW!”  The petition is concerned with issues of wellness that students feel need to be addressed immediately. In this petition, Corl states “The fact that this has been ignored by leaders in the Le Moyne community is abhorrent, and it needs to be addressed now before another tragedy happens.”

Thousands of individuals both on and off-campus seem to resonate with his actions of change, leading to signatures, comments, and today’s protest. Participating students share the sentiment which Corl notes in the petition: “That is three too many.”

“I did this as a concern of students first and foremost. If I wasn’t in SGA I would still do this,” said Corl. 

At the protest, Chloe Hanson, a sophomore who is an XC/Track and Field Athlete, VP of Chronic Illness Awareness Club, and Le Moyne SAAC Media Chair member, shared a powerful message with administrators about her time here at Le Moyne, announcing that “I’m dumbfounded by how strict the rules are here. It can feel so suffocating.” 

Hanson shared her dismay over how the college has approached providing students with a semester in the midst of COVID-19. “I came here dreaming of a school that followed ‘cura personalis,’ and instead I get free junk food one day a week, a single ‘Mental Health Day’ we begged for, extremely intense COVID protocols, unforgiving academic schedules, and a false promise for reliable access to on-campus mental health resources.”

Another student protestor, Mickayla Carey, a junior, shared her concerns on how “Le Moyne seems to ignore the problem, especially administration.” Carey was a close friend of Kaiden Tubbert, who passed in March 2020. She shares her own struggles with mental health and her negative experience with the Wellness Center. Carey stated, “Our mental health services need to change and the way Le Moyne administration addresses this needs to change.”

Carey continued, “Three suicides in a year and a half is an extremely high rate for any college, especially a college with 3,000 kids.” She identifies as a student advocate for those who are suffering with suicidal thoughts and other mental health problems.

A vigil was held for Cory at 3 pm today. Students have planned to organize a mental health day tomorrow, March 23, by not attending classes. Additionally, further protests are planned. Students are banding together to remind one another that ‘Phins never swim alone.